I’ve been asked this question by a couple people: “What do you do about plastic trash bags?”
Unfortunately, I still use them. A little bit ago I justified to myself that I could buy the “biodegradable” ones. (NOT the solution)
Another more experienced blogger who I’m reading talks about this topic. I’m simply going to restate and reorganize what I take away from her post. I’ll also post a link to her (much bigger and better) blog here. I’m in no competition with anyone about this lifestyle. I think that showing whoever reads my post HER blog will simply spread better awareness and education about the differences we can all make. (:
Here are some of the things to consider when thinking about how to eliminate trash bags from your life.
Biodegradable Bags? No.
Apparently they’re kinda tricky. Not all they’re cracked up to be. Don’t be fooled. A lot of products and their marketing can be falsified, such as “free range” or “cruelty free” or “organic”. In this case “biodegradable”.
Compostable trash bags made from bio-based plastics may biodegrade in a well-run industrial compost facility. However, not all facilities will accept them. When they’re put into a landfill instead, they give off methane gas!
With many compostable or biodegradable bags, we’re apparently not sure if they actually break down back into nature OR if they only break down into teeny tiny pieces of plastic. 😦 Those teeny tiny pieces never go away, and they poison our animals.
Apparently a lot of these kinds of bags don’t have their ingredients listed on the boxes. Kinda SHIFTY if you ask me…
In my amateur opinion, I’d say it’s best to stay away from these bags as they’re probably not much better than regular trash bags (which still suck).
Recycled Plastic Bags? No.
These trash bags aren’t actually made of 100% recycled materials.
Many include “virgin plastic”. Yup, newly created plastic! Ew. Buying these still increases the demand for plastic.
See? This picture even says “65% recycled plastic.
Paper Bags? Eh, no.
I dunno actually, what like, Trader Joes Bags? I guess.
Not plastic thankfully, but still using a lot of trees.
And if any of your trash is yucky and wet, you’ve got a problem again. These kinds of bags don’t compost in landfill either. 😦
The Best Solution So Far
Only use trash bags for your “wet trash“. Wet trash is stuff like food waste: strawberry tops, banana peels, coffee grounds, or egg shells. Really any kind of organic food matter that would make a mess if in a container without a bag.
This way, you can reduce the frequency at which you utilize plastic trash bags.
We do NOT need to bag “dry trash”. Dry trash is basically whatever materials that cannot be recycled, but are not wet trash.
MY NEXT STEP is to get a third container: either a compost bin or another trash bin (hopefully second hand!!!). In this third container I will put all of my wet trash.
Because of this topic I’ve been trying to find out about ways to compost in my area. Things I’ve done that you can do are:
- Compost your organic wet trash and use it in your yard to grow fun things!
- If you don’t have a yard, contact a local community garden to see if they will accept your compost. Unfortunately mine does not. See if yours does!
- If you don’t have a yard, talk to the information booth at your local farmers markets to see if they know or can find out about any vendors who would be able to take and put to use your compost every week. This is what Lauren Singer does. She created TrashIsForTossers. Check her out here!
- If you don’t want to utilize your compost and the other options above don’t work out, contact your local community’s waste management and see if they offer a couple things. First, see if they offer curbside compost pick up. Second, if they do not offer that, see if they offer yard trimmings pick up and ask if it is okay to put compost IN your yard trimmings bin.
It sucks right now being in an apartment and trying to do these things because I am very limited with my options. So I am going to talk to the workers at our leasing front desk about our trash pick up. I am also going to ask if they would consider ordering a couple of compost bins to be picked up.
It would be great if we produced nothing that was not 100% recyclable. That way we wouldn’t need trash bags. However, the ultimate goal here is NOT to be perfect. It is to make whatever difference we can make. Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.