Photo: Do reusable cloth bags contain lead?

High levels of lead have shown up in many reusable bags. (Credit: MissMalaprop via Flickr)

In the past, high levels of lead have shown up in many reusable totes and grocery bags.

To find out if the bags you own contain lead, contact the manufacturer. Some companies have gone so far as to issue recalls.

For example, you can read more about the Sears recall on Health Canada's Consumer Product Safety website. Health Canada suggests that consumers immediately discontinue use of a particular style of bag, and Sears Canada is offering a refund to those who return their bags to their nearest Sears department store.

Similarly, Lululemon Athletica is concerned about a few of its bags when it comes to "disposal issues related to the environment due to the ink lead content." If you've received one of Lululemon's free bags over the past year, you can return it to any store location.

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Of course, you're not going to eat the bag, but for your next purchase, ask the retailer if its bags are printed using soy- or vegetable-based inks. As with lead sometimes found in lipstick and kids' toys, it makes an appearance in the pigment or paint on reusable bags. If you have cloth bags without any designs, artwork or logos you should be fine.

And don't forget to wash your bags and the produce you put in them!

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