Shoplifting soars in Seattle grocery stores after ban on plastic bags as study finds spike in E. coli cases ‘linked to filthy reusable totes’

Daily Mail

Seattle’s ban on plastic bags may be good for the planet, but some local store owners say it has proven catastrophic for their bottom line.

Mike Duke, who runs the Lake City Grocery Outlet grocery store, said that since the City Council unanimously passed the ban last July, he has lost at least $5,000 in shoplifted produce and between $3,000-$4,000 in swiped frozen food.
‘We’ve never lost that much before,’ Duke told KBOI News.

Besides outlawing the use of plastic bags, businesses in Seattle are also required to charge a nickel for paper bags in order to encourage consumers to use the more environmentally friendly reusable bags.

But according to Duke, the ‘green’ canvas totes make it much harder for loss-prevention officers to detect what the customers have purchased and what they may have brought with them, which inevitably gives rise to shoplifting, SeattlePI.com reported.

According to data released in January by Seattle Public Utilities, more than 21 per cent of business owners surveyed said increased shoplifting because of the plastic bag ban has become a problem.

Eight per cent of the responders called shoplifting a ‘big’ problem, while about six per cent said it was a ‘medium’ or ‘small’ problem.

‘Across the United States we have seen these bag bans, and the shoplifting has always had a substantial leap,’ Jan Gee, president of the Washington Food Industry Association, said to KBOI, ‘and so it was not a surprise to us.’

However, results of another survey conducted by an environmental advocacy group that same month found the ban ‘popular and successful,’ and had no mention of a spike in shoplifting.

The Lake City grocery store operator said that another negative side effect of the plastic-bag ban is an increase in the number of hand baskets lifted from the supermarket to the tune of thousands of dollars.

Shoplifters would load up their baskets with groceries – both stolen and purchased – and walk out of the store, Duke said.

In a desperate bid to stop the rampant shoplifting, the owner attempted to get rid of the hand baskets, but his customers were not happy with the move.
But loss of revenue due to shoplifting is not the only problem that has been linked to the ban.

According to a study released last summer, the bag ban coincided with a jump in the number of E. coli cases and a spike in deaths caused by food-borne illnesses.
Another study published in 2011 found E. coli in eight per cent of all reusable bags from randomly selected individuals in California and Arizona stores.
Washing the bags eliminated nearly all of the harmful bacteria, but evidence presented in the paper suggested that not all consumers bother to do it.

Lifespan-Crushing Stress Levels Skyrocket Since 1983

In the past, it was difficult to get an accurate measure of how stress had changed over time. This is because people 50 years ago simply didn’t measure stress levels; it wasn’t the concern that it is now. But because of the status quo, the need to make more money, gain more accolades, or simply pay the bills—stress has become harder to ignore.

Stress Levels Skyrocket Since 1983

In 1983, a telephone stress survey was conducted. Now, almost three decades later, we get to compare the results of that survey with current numbers to see how stress levels have changed through the years.

The results of the research are published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen and Denise Janicki-Deverts analyzed the data from the 1983 phone survey and compared it with online surveys from 2006 and 2009. Perhaps not surprisingly, they found that stress levels have gone through the roof.

Most people showed increased stress levels. But women, poor people and those with lower education levels reported more stress in each subsequent survey. The group that experienced the most stress related to the 2008-09 economic catastrophe were white, employed, middle-aged men with college degrees. Researchers surmise this could be because the group had the most to lose when the economy took a downturn.

According to USA Today, “stress increased 18% for women and 24% for men from 1983 to 2009.” They also found that stress tends to decrease as people age, with those in their 30s reporting lower stress levels than those in their 20s, and so forth. Nearly every demographic reported higher stress levels in the 2000s than in 1983, anywhere from 10 to 30% more.

This particular report has been called “more credible than most stress surveys because of its scientific methodology.” And I think most of us would agree that we are living in more stressful times now than 20 or 30 years ago. This is particularly concerning due to the fact that high stress levels have been linked to a 50% increased chance of premature death.

David Spiegel of the Center on Stress and Health at Stanford University School of Medicine says, “Economic pressures are greater, and it’s harder to turn off information, and it’s harder to buffer ourselves from the world.”

He makes a good point. Not only do we, as modern adults, seem more preoccupied with getting more “stuff” and having more success, but we have a harder time escaping from the pressures of life. A vacation now isn’t what it was 30 years ago. We remain connected to our office, bill collectors, and everyone else with modern technology, and there really is only fleeting escapes from these constant demands. We are bombarded with reasons to stay stressed, if not from our own doings, than from mainstream media, making things like meditation, proper nutrition, and stress-blasting fitness all the more crucial.

Thankfully, there is information available you may use to understand how to de-stress.