Every day, millions of people fill their polyethylene plastic bags with single use plastic, packaging, paper and food waste. Billions, maybe? If you are remotely environmentally conscious, consider using eco friendly trash bags instead.
You know by now plastic bags don’t compost or biodegrade. They don’t break down into harmless compounds. Instead, they degrade into tiny pieces of plastic.
Those tiny pieces – microplastics – are getting into the environment.
Nat Geo says they’re getting into every crevice on Earth.
The Washington Post reported we are ingesting some of that plastic.
And Arizona State University is investigating whether or not plastic is being stored in our organs.
In less than a generation, plastic went from being an amazing invention to causing serious health problems for all life on the planet.
While we need broad, sweeping and immediate changes to limit our plastic use, we can also make individual choices to say no to plastic waste.
Much like wearing a mask protects you and those around you, reducing plastic in your daily life could protect the environment.
It’s up to us to do something.
But, why trash bags?
I mentioned it earlier – there are billions of people who are using plastic trash bags right now! How often do you think bags go to the landfill? A couple times a week? Can you just imagine how many bags that is?
Are there actual solutions?
Short answer – they aren’t perfect yet.
Most eco friendly bags are complicated and problematic.
Because there is lots of greenwashing around newer products.
Some companies try to market their bags as eco friendly alternatives. But, they leave out crucial details about how NOT environmentally friendly they are.
Many recycle plastic to make the bags. But, when you recycle plastic, you still need virgin plastic to maintain the integrity of the product.
So, products could never be made with 100% recycled plastic.
Also, why do we need more plastic? Plastic is THE problem here.
Then, other companies talk about having biodegradable eco friendly trash bags. But, some of these bags need really high temperatures to biodegrade.
We’re talking about higher temperatures than Middle Eastern deserts.
Which landfill in your country gets that hot?
As trash is buried by more trash, the temperature get cooler underground. So, how exactly can these biodegradable bags actually biodegrade?
They need industrial composting sites to do that – sites that burn trash to produce biogas. Does your trash go to those facilities?
Now, there are companies that ONLY use plant-based materials.
They are eco friendly, yes, but they are they’re thin and can fall apart on you.
They aren’t perfect, but they’re better than plastic. And that’s a win for the environment.
Eco Friendly Trash Bags
I should mention here there is a US non-profit – Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) – that certifies compostable products and packaging.
They have a certified list for companies offering compostable bags. Here are a few on their list:
Size: 13 gallons
Unni is on BPI’s list. It also meets the Vinçotte (European) standards for backyard composting.
That’s because the bags are made with plant starches. They’re biodegradable at home, so they’ll definitely degrade in the landfill.
Since they’re plant-based, the bags have a short shelf life and even shorter lifespan when in use.
They can tear easily. Plus, the heat of rotting food can activate them, causing them to break down even in your bin!
So, you can take the bag out within a day of using it. Or keep your trash in a washable bin before transferring it to the bag the day before trash collection.
It’s not perfect; but it’s definitely environmentally friendly.
Size: 13 gallons
BioBag is another BPI certified company. Their bags are made with plant starches, vegetable oils and fully compostable polymers.
The polymers (likely polylactide) make the bags a bit more durable than Unni bags. They can sit in a bin with some rotting food for a couple days.
But, they may leak on you after that – the company does say the bags allow moisture to escape easily.
If the size is too big, try BioBag’s 3 gallon one that’s perfect for small kitchen pails.
Plus, they have eco friendly dog poop bags with handles, in case you’re interested.
Size: 3 gallons
These are more durable than BioBag’s and certified by BPI.
I’m not quite sure what the bags are made from, but according to their website, they are:
“constructed with a special blend of biopolymers that maintain strength and leak resistance while in use at home, but degrade when introduced into an active compost environment converting to carbon dioxide, water and biomass within a few weeks, leaving behind no harmful residues or toxins.”Bag to Nature
One thing is for sure, they’re small and eco friendly.
Size: 13 gallons
These are made with sugar cane products – not petroleum-based plastics.
They are thick, sturdy and have reinforced bottom seams.
BUT, the bags are not compostable!
The company says the bags are recyclable – but who is going to recycle a trash bag?
So, these bags are good if you need a heavy duty bag that isn’t plastic. For your everyday trash though, the others are better for the landfill.
More Ideas to Reduce Trash
Each municipality has its own rules. Contact yours and find out what is acceptable to them. For instance, ask if your sanitation workers will take up trash in old cardboard boxes instead of trash bags. What about paper-based bags?
Chat with the workers themselves too and ask them what they’re willing to accept. Explaining your zero waste lifestyle and getting their input on how you should deliver your trash to them will reduce the awkwardness of the situation.
Compost whatever you can or find nearby composters or farmers who are willing to accept your food scraps.
Recycle glass, metal, paper and plastic wherever possible.
Shop at zero waste stores or bulk stores. If you can take your own bags and bottles with you, you’ll have a lot less waste to throw out at the end of the week.
There are so many more ways to reduce the amount of waste you put into your trash bag. I’ll stop here and turn it over to you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on these trash bags and your tips for reducing waste.