Now more than ever, there is an initiative to “go green.” This is how we all try to reduce our carbon footprint on this planet and to produce less waste than we may have in years past. It isn’t just a fad; it is an attempt to change the way that we live so that we can leave this planet in better condition for our children and our children’s children.
The thing is that no matter how responsible we try to be, we will still create trash that will wind up in a landfill. Until we can find a way to safely recycle everything that we use, this is just the harsh reality that we have to deal with.
One of those issues surrounds our garbage cans. We need a place to store our trash until it is picked up from our homes and plastic trash bags are a source of waste that many of us don’t even think about.
So if we are attempting to reduce the use of non-recyclables, how is it that we still have trash bags that don’t fit the criteria?
Thankfully, there are alternative methods to disposing of your trash without having to use those wasteful plastic garbage bags that create unnecessary waste. Some of these are quite practical and may not have been something that you realized was even possible.
1 – Don’t Use Trash Bags
This might not seem to be the best alternative but it is also perhaps the simplest as well as the most cost-effective option to using plastic trash bags. This can be particularly helpful if you already compost as you can transfer some of your trash into your compost bin.
If you do compost, this means that the remaining garbage that you do have will remain relatively dry and easy to dispose of. When your garbage can is full, you can empty it into your curbside garbage bin that gets picked up by the city.
To keep your can clean and prevent it from being encrusted in nasty garbage, use a natural cleaning spray every once in a while to wipe out your bin. This will keep it from smelling nasty and becoming coated in foul garbage.
Keep in mind that there are some municipalities that will require the uses of garbage bags. This means that the bag-free option may not be possible for everyone.
Even if you can go this route, you may want to reconsider if you create quite a bit of trash. This is because too much trash in your bin could find its way onto the ground and blow around, creating more mess than you intended it to make.
2 – Use Bags That You Have
This step requires a little creativity, but can be quite effective when it comes to getting rid of your trash in a less wasteful way. But the fact of the matter is that most of us have some kind of disposable bag available to us that got some other kind of use.
If you have pets, you undoubtedly buy pet food that comes in bags. You can use those empty pet food bags as a trash container of some sort. That gives use to that big empty pet food bag while limiting the amount of waste that you are creating.
But what about those of us without pets? There is a pretty good chance that you will have paper or plastic bags around your home from grocery shopping. After all, most of us do our shopping, unpack our groceries, and then have several bags left over.
Use them to dispose of your trash. Some already do so by putting those bags in their smaller garbage cans in places such as the bathroom, but they can be used to store any garbage, just in smaller increments. This is a great use for those plastic bags that may just get thrown away otherwise.
Another great use for those empty plastic grocery bags is for those who have pets. Instead of buying bags specifically for picking up the pet waste, you can use grocery bags to do the job.
They might not have deodorizers built in to keep the smell away but they will help for getting rid of that waste all the same.
3 – Reusable Trash Bags
Believe it or not, there are reusable trash bags on the market today. They are usually waterproof, spill-proof, and built in a far sturdier way to ensure that rips or leaks do not occur. This means that you can reuse your bag again and again, resulting in lesser waste.
Best of all, they are simple to use and will keep the garbage can in your home from becoming dirty, sticky, and nasty. All you have to do is dump out the refuse when your reusable bag is full.
Again, keep in mind that not all municipalities allow for the use of curbside bins with no bags so be certain to check out those rules before proceeding.
By using the reusable bags, you get multiple benefits. The first is that you create less waste since you aren’t going through bag after bag after bag. The other is that you save money in the long run.
When buying plastic trash bags, they often come in bulk but that can be expensive. With reusable garbage bags, you only need to buy a few at a time in order to keep yourself properly stocked for months to come.
This also makes for a great idea even if you can’t transfer loose trash into your curbside bin so long as you are composting. You can use the reusable garbage bags as a means to transfer waste to your compost bin and avoid the nasty mess that can come with an unlined compost bin.
4 – Garbage Bags Made From Recycled Material
If none of those methods are quite green enough, there is an even more safe and environmentally responsible way to go and that is with garbage bags that are made from recycled materials.
There are some that believe this to be the truest form of what is known as “greenwashing.” After all, there is a point to be made about using a non-biodegradable material to house trash that could potentially be degraded at some point.
Some plastic bags are made from fossil fuels and wind up using energy throughout their entire life cycle. If you currently have single-use plastic garbage bags but are looking to make a change, don’t feel the need to rush through your current stash.
When you have naturally used up your supply of plastic trash bags, you can then make the switch to 100%-recycled plastic bags instead. Just be aware of those biodegradable plastic bags that some of these garbage bags are made of.
Landfills are designed to keep trash in so that it does not rot. If you introduce a biodegradable plastic bag into a landfill, it is then just another plastic bag that is sitting in the landfill and does nothing of positive value.
There are also paper bags. Paper bags are of course made from trees but the manufacturing of them is what generates greenhouses gases as well as pollution. If you are looking for a greener solution, you can go with 100%-recycled paper bags instead.
There are people who use wax paper too since it acts as a moisture barrier when using paper trash bags. When moisture is allowed to get into the paper bags, it can soak them and make them flimsy. This results in trash spilling out and the bags becoming essentially useless.
With recycled paper bags, they will break down in nature, especially when they are wet. Still, they won’t biodegrade in a landfill, which makes them a perfectly fine option in place of those traditional single-use plastic bags.
5 – Consider Composting
At first, composting might seem to be an inconvenience rather than being something beneficial to nature. But once you become accustomed to the process, you can not only do a lot of good for nature but benefit any gardens that you may be growing on your property.
Composting means putting your vegetable and fruit scraps into a compost bin. That eliminates some of the yuckier things that would traditionally go into your garbage can, meaning that there are less things to truly muck up your garbage can should you go without a bag.
With those scraps being turned into compost, you have less actual trash to focus on. This means things such as bones and meat packaging, paper towels, and other things that aren’t made to go into a compost heap for reuse.
If you do wind up composting, that can make it far easier to be creative in the disposal of the rest of your trash without having to use those wasteful plastic single-use bags. That means making better use of other containers that will ultimately be disposed of anyway.
Tips for Going Bagless
Should you decide that going without a bag is the method that you choose, there will likely be questions about what to do should the trash can become gross and smelly.
There are a few ways to address this issue that can make it far more feasible of a method than you initially thought.
If you do decide to go without a bag, the first step is to downgrade the size of your trash can. The bigger the can that you have, the more surface area that there is for trash and general yuckiness to coat itself on the inside of your can.
When you downgrade to a much smaller can, it makes it not only easier to dispose of that amount of trash, but makes for less surface area to become dirty and nasty.
Not only that, it makes it easier to clean your garbage can out periodically. With a bigger can, you may not be able to get all the way to the bottom in an effective way.
Additionally, you will not have to clean out the small garbage can quite as often. Since it isn’t getting as much gross trash in it at one time, that means less of a chance of a substance getting stuck to the edges of the can.
Even if your municipality requires a bag, there are ways around this. You can put a plastic bag in your curbside trash container as you would a normal garbage can.
Dispose of your trash that is in the small garbage can by dumping it into the large can in your garage. When the week is up, tie the bag off and put the bin on the curb.
This not only satisfies the need for a garbage bag by your municipality but it also makes for easier disposal and far less waste created by single-use plastic bags.
Even if you plan to get rid of those single-use bags but still have some on hand, it is a more effective way of using them without creating the kind of waste that comes with using several of them in a week.
Alternatives Are More Eco-Friendly
Whatever method that you choose to go with, just know that no change is too small.
Anything that can be done to make our carbon footprint a bit smaller is a good thing and it all adds up. It might feel as if you are one person in a great big world but there are many others along with you doing the same thing.
Creating less waste is never a bad thing and it doesn’t have to be nearly as difficult as you may have thought. Even if you have to wash out your garbage can once in a while, it can make for a much better method of waste disposal, creating less waste that will ultimately end up in a landfill.
It isn’t too late to make a change either. Anything that we can do to better the environment is a way to make the future a brighter one for our kids and their kids. And that’s what is most important.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies…I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house.