I first started using the word incongreenient when I moved to Tokyo in 2008. I wasn’t sure if it was actually a word but that didn’t bother me. It suited my purposes well. Tokyo was years ahead of New York in terms of recycling and the process left me weary. It was not unusual to see six different receptacles for sorting your garbage, hence the need for a word like incongreenient. When I returned home to New York in 2012 I moved to a town (Rye) that had banned plastic bags. I must admit to the huge eye roll and the reoccurrence of the usage of my trusty new word. I shook my head each time I would run into CVS to buy a small box of tampons and be given a huge (grocery sized) bag to put it in. This couldn’t possibly be a good thing. So now the back of my car has at all times an assortment of reusable bags that I have purchased at Whole Foods, Stop and Shop and Trader Joe’s. I don’t always remember them when running into the store which causes me to frequently buy a new bag or four. But the term incongreenient has taken on new meaning and might not even fit the bill anymore. A new study was done in 2011 in California and Arizona which tested reusable bags and found that 51% of them contained coliform bacteria. Here’s how it gets there. We shop, we don’t always separate meat from vegetables in our bags, we empty the bags without washing them and then we throw them back into our trunks where they sit and roast (depending upon where you live and the time of year) and voila! the bacteria grows ten fold. The study reports that we can eliminate this risk by 99.9% if we wash our bags! Excellent news. However it goes on to say that only 3% wash our bags. Immediately following the plastic bag ban in San Fransisco, the ecoli admissions at the area hospitals grew by 46%. Sometimes, when lawmakers pass laws with knee jerk reactions to appease their citizens we end up with unintended consequences. And by the way, those plastic bags that use too much oil to make and pollute our waterways and kill marine animals – they only represent .6% of our total litter problem. Now that is incongreenient.