The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
February 15, 2010

Collecting Garbage Without Plastic Trash Bags?

Glad Trash Bags - We Don't Use ThemIt’s a new week, and I’m ready to talk trash. One of the most common questions I get about plastic-free living is what I do for garbage bags. And the second most common question is what to line our waste cans with if plastic grocery bags are banned.

Here’s my short answer: We don’t line our trash can with any plastic bags at all.

The longer answer is that since we make almost zero trash, and the trash we do make is dry, we don’t have any need for bags to collect it.

Composting Wet Garbage

Composting takes care of anything wet and icky. We collect all of our food scraps in a metal bucket that we keep near the sink.  We used to line it with BioBags (more info on those below), but these days we opt for sheets of old newspaper that can be composted along with the food scraps. Originally, we didn’t bother with any liner at all, but eventually I found the aluminum bucket too hard to clean without it.

metal compost bucket

Here in the SF Bay Area, many of us have several options for composting. With very little effort, those of us in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and other areas with city-wide composting can simply empty our food scraps (including animal products) and food-soiled paper directly into our green bins, from which it will be picked up by the same company that hauls our garbage and processed at a commercial compost facility. In fact, according to a new San Francisco recycling law, putting food waste in a compost bin is not an option; it’s mandatory.

Oakland CA green compost bin

So what about those of us without city-wide composting?

Compost TumblerMany of us can still compost on our own. In fact, for several years, Michael and I used our own Compost Tumbler to make beautiful compost for our front yard. We chose a tumbler because we didn’t have the yard space for a traditional composter, and a tumbler could be set up right on our back deck.

There are plenty of other options for home composting besides the one we chose. Tumblers, traditional bins, worm bins, bokashi are all methods of converting bio waste into soil. Back in 2007, I explained why we chose our composting method. Here in Oakland, the city offers residents discounted composters and worm bins. Other cities may offer subsidized compost bins too. A quick search shows programs in New York City, Massachusetts, Thurston County WA, and many others.

Recycling paper, glass, & metal

Back porch recycling containerComposting takes care of the wet stuff. Most of what we have left is recyclable. We recycle clean paper, glass jars, metal cans. Michael recycles any plastic containers he ends up with. My plastic, as you know, ends up in my plastic collection for display on this blog. As it turns out, the major portion of our recycling is newspaper. We rarely eat canned foods because of the BPA lining inside metal cans. And we save glass jars for food storage.

Our recycling container, of course, is not lined with plastic. In fact, you should never put plastic bags into your recycle bin because they can jam up the sorting machines. I wrote extensively about recycling back in 2007 after researching the materials that could go into Oakland’s recycling system, and made visits to our local Davis Street Recycling Center and California Waste Solutions. Check out these posts for a deeper understanding of the recycling process.

The Rest of our Bagless Trash

The rest of our trash consists of dryer lint (of which there is very little because we hang most of our laundry to dry), floor sweepings, dental floss, Michael’s few unrecyclable plastic wrappers (he brings most of them to work to contribute to the Terracycle Wrapper Brigade), and bits of unrecognizable stuff here and there. We don’t compost our lint because some of our laundry contains synthetic fibers.  Nevertheless, our small trash can fills up very, very slowly. We empty it about once a month.

kitchen trash can

kitchen trash can

Plastic-Free Pet Waste

We don’t need to use plastic bags for our cats’ waste either because we use SwheatScoop, which is biodegradable, flushable litter. You might hear warnings about flushing cat waste because of a parasite many cats carry that is hazardous to marine animals. Our cats, however, have tested negative for toxoplasma gondii, and since they are indoor only cats, there is no chance they will pick it up. So for us, flushing is the best answer.

If we had dogs, we’d have to find another alternative. One possibility would be to pick up poop using compostable dog waste bags and dispose of it in a dog waste composter.  However, using compostable dog waste bags is not recommended if the waste is simply going to the landfill.  You’ll see why further down this post.

What If We Couldn’t Compost?

So, as I’ve said, the main reason we don’t need to use plastic trash bags is because there is nothing wet or icky in our trash. But what if for some reason composting were not an answer and we really did need to use some kind of liner?  Here is a comparison of various options, starting with the least environmentally-friendly:

Conventional plastic trash bags. They’re strong, waterproof, and come in various sizes. Some of them have convenient little tie strings. But the majority of their content is virgin plastic made from fossil fuels (oil or natural gas), which are non-renewable resources. Their production contributes to the worldwide problem of pre-production plastic pollution (aka “nurdles“). They will never biodegrade. Oh, and they cost money!

Recycled plastic trash bags. They contain 55% – 80% recycled plastic, although only 10% – 24% is post-consumer waste. While they require less virgin plastic in their production than conventional bags, they still contain some new plastic which is destined to go straight from the box to the landfill, where it will never biodegrade. Oh, and they too cost money.

Certified compostable trash bags made from bio-based plastics. Bags like BioBag are made from a combination of plant starches and fossil-based plastics that are certified to biodegrade in a well-run industrial compost facility. However, since they are synthetic, they are prohibited from certified organic compost, so not all facilities will accept them. And in the anaerobic conditions of a landfill, they will give off methane gas like any other bio-based materials. Methane is actually a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Plus, BioBags cost money!

Other Biodegradable Bags. Some of these are tricky. There are oxodegradable bags which are made from virgin plastic and contain a heavy metal to help them break down. And there are also bags which are a mixture of virgin plastic and various starches. The jury is out as to whether these bags actually decompose all the way or whether they simply break down into tiny pieces of plastic that last in the environment.  One of the issues with these types of bags is that for proprietary reasons, manufacturers will not reveal the ingredients that are in them.  If we don’t know what a plastic is made from, how do we know it’s safe?

Paper bags. From a practical standpoint, paper won’t solve the problem of wet garbage. Ecologically speaking, they have their own environmental impacts. Paper bags require materials (trees) and energy to produce. And once again, they will not compost properly in landfill conditions.

Re-used plastic bags such as grocery, bread, and chips bags. Since these bags’ original purpose was to hold something other than garbage, as trashbags they can be considered to contain 100% post-consumer content. And in most places, they’re free.  Here’s a funny video listing all the different kinds of packaging you can use for trash if plastic shopping bags are banned. It’s tongue in cheek, so please take it with the humor that’s intended:

Still, reused plastic packaging and bags are made from a non-renewable resource and bring with them all the problems of the first two types of plastic bags. And since the whole point of this blog is reducing plastic consumption, I’m not recommending bringing home new plastic grocery bags or packaging simply to line trash cans.

While we ourselves might not have a supply on hand from our own groceries, Freecycle and Craigslist could be good sources. Rather than accepting new plastic grocery bags to send to the landfill with our trash, why not use someone else’s — someone else who has not yet kicked their plastic habit. It’s not a perfect solution, but better than buying or acquiring new plastic to throw away.  And a further suggestion would be to use the plastic bags only for wet garbage.  Put the dry stuff in a separate can without any liner. That way, you’ll at least reduce the amount of plastic you need to use.

The fact is, there is no magically perfect way to dispose of garbage since the whole concept of garbage itself is not eco-friendly. The best option is to try and reduce the amount of waste we generate in the first place.

Note: This post was updated on 12/02/2012.

58 comments
nanr42
nanr42

Why do we line our undersink trash cans at all? What did people do before plastic bags? What if we just didn't? I've been struggling with this idea, and find it hard to implement. Any thoughts on this?

FranBC
FranBC

I have a good method for handling the garbage we don't recycle or compost. I use a small stainless steel garbage can lined with half a sheet of newspaper. When that's full, I dump into an aluminum garbage can with lid for pickup. Works great!

MotherLodeBeth
MotherLodeBeth

As a side note for glass, plastic, aluminum for the recycling center that we collect when out for daily walks we use king size pillow cases which are then washed and line dried when we get home from the recyling center.  As for the wet items in the inside compost bucket that we take outside when half full to dump in the composter, we find using shredded cardboard in the bucket absorbs the liquids for fruits, vegetables so we don't end up with any slime in the bucket.

cdhozac
cdhozac

Another option for a lot of wet garbage is a food disposal system. My city uses organic materials in the sewage system to create biogas to run our buses. Not everything can go down the drain, but most of it can. Some cities also harvest the methane and other gases from landfills to be repurposed into something productive. Like running the BMW plant in NC. You can always look into suggesting these improvements for the next upgrade to the waste systems if your city doesn't already energy harvest from the waste.

patsposies
patsposies

Compost bucket tip:  No need to even use (and buy) the bio bags you mentioned that you use in your kitchen compost bucket.  Just use  2 layers of (recycled) newspaper (no shiny colored paper)  pushed down in the bucket and let it go up the sides.  Then when full w/ compostable food scraps just dump the whole thing into your compost bin or pile.  The newspaper breaks down w/ the food and also helps prevent odors in the bucket.  It also absorbs moisture from the food!!  Try it - it will change your life!  Pat

avp
avp

I've read in the past that it's not a good idea to flush cat litter, not because of the plumbing, but because it puts more stress on an already overloaded public septic system. Do you have any feedback or suggestions on that front?

Claretta Freeman
Claretta Freeman

I feel sad and overwhelmed as I read this article. When the average person feels like they want to make changes and tries to look for ways to do this, It seems almost impossible. The only things that seem possible for me to do are things I already do like reuse bags and recycle plastic. The average person does not have the time or money to do the things you suggest. I love your suggestions but they would require a book just to know how to live differently so that I could try to do SOME of the things. I have to fight with my husband just to get him to recycle milk bottles! Time like thses I feel like Oh well the earth is going to **** in a handbasket! I know there are many people who think this way. When you work all the time and you are trying your hardest to put healthy food on the table and take care of your kids...These things seem impossible to figure out or to add into your already crazy routine. Why can't being green be more convenient. I think I need a Green support group. That might make it easier. I wish I had a compost tumbler. I just learned what that is today. How can the average person know these things if they do not seek it out. I live in the midwest. Most people only slightly care about the environment. Everyone is waiting for the "government" to do something. I want to do something too but I ashamedly admit I don't want to go crazy doing it. It is way more countercultural than I realized.

Julie
Julie

Wow, who knew it had to be so complicated? I don't have city composting, so I don't know what rules apply. But I have a large backyard, so I compost all sorts of crazy things. I read the Humanure Handbook a couple years back, and while I don't follow his recommendations, I realized how silly it was to be afraid of composting pet waste. So the dog poop and cat litter (I use a corn product, because I'm allergic to wheat) go right in the bin, along with floor sweepings (mostly crumbs, cat hair, and outdoor dirt anyway) and dryer lint. Sure, the polyester isn't actually going to break down at a molecular level, but is it better to put it in a landfill? I can't identify it once the compost is finished, and it doesn't seem to be causing my garden any harm. I'll throw nearly anything in the compost at least once. I usually find a few bits of trash in the compost -- usually plastic envelope windows, but one time it was an entire zipper, about three feet long. No sign of whatever it was attached to, and I couldn't remember!

Purvi
Purvi

Hello Beth, Your blog has become my resource for exploring ways to minimize trash/plastic consumption. Thank you once again for becoming an inspiration, I hope to become a tiny part of that for my friends :) My husband was against composting because he thinks compost waste would stink up our garage/kitchen in one week. We live in a townhome so cannot self-compost. But we do have city taking care of compost in our yard waste bin and I plan to leverage that. Now I have finally kinda/sorta convinced him to give this a try. My question however is 2 fold - 1. What is the best way to dispose liquids (either food gone stale sadly although I dont let it happen very often) or genuine wastage (I have a toddler at home)? Especially considering that I have to store this in some form for a week before the yard waste is picked up. It will be great if you can share any ideas here. 2. If I chose to not line my kitchen pail with biobags (sort of use your idea) , how do I clean/protect the yard waste bin? Since we have a townhome, we dont actually have any yard waste (the community takes care of it) to line it with. Do we make the big can "Dirty" by dumping everything in there? how do people clean it - just wash it out? I know these are smaller doubts in mind, but they seem to be delaying my switch to using the compost bin. I know partly if I just make the move, I will figure these out, but woudl still like to learn from this awesome blog/community if I can. Thank you, Purvi

Dawn
Dawn

Thanks for bringing to mind another aspect of my pet plastic issue (I have a post coming out tomorrow on my "alternative" pets and their plastic). I have a snake and 2 birds. The snake cage needs cleaned about twice a year unless it gets really bad provided I clean up the tiny bit of poo each month but the birds use old newspaper and/or paper towels and are poop brigades. I suppose I could scoop out the snake poo and just wash the container that I use for that purpose only. And when the cage does need cleaned she generally uses either sawdust type material (a bit larger like what you would put in a horse stall) or bark or newspaper so it should be easy to dispose of without plastic. If I can't find old newspaper I'm sure I could just make a habit out of spraying off the plastic pull out tray for the birds weekly in order to cut down on the plant use as well (no paper towels that way). Hmm...more thinking! Also just have to tote your recycling! We are a pretty bad household when it comes to plastic and waste in general (I have no control over the roommate and the husband doesn't yet understand but at least I can get him to recycle) and once we started recycling it was amazing. We went from not being able to close the lid of our trashcan weekly to having tons of excess space! And all we did was add 3 bins to our system (CRV, containers, paper)! :) So yay for this blog and yay for you! Can't wait til the city we live next to (we're in a suburb that isn't technically considered a part of the city ordinance) impliments their compost law! I can then use my parents compost bin they are required to use like we do for most of our recycling and our waste will go down another huge notch! :)

claire
claire

what if you separated your synthetic clothes from your natural ones when washing? which might work out well because most synthetic fibers are supposed to be hang dried and cotton dries very stiff on the line. there's the problem of cotton/polyester blends, but I was reading about composting lint and some people said that you could compost even synthetic lint because it's in small pieces and would break down, I'm not really sure about that though. someone mentioned dog waste, I've been having this same dilemma. as far as plastic-free solutions, there is composting, burying (may contaminate water supply), flushing (may clog pipes, but is apparently the EPA recommended disposal option: http://www.epa.gov/weatherchannel/stormwater.html, plus there are flushable dog bags), or using paper bags (not water-proof, except for maybe wax bags? and not easily sealable without tape or glue). but since these are not always possible or practical solutions, there are ways of reducing the amount of plastic used (considering dog walking usually means a bag, or more, per day). I read a good blog post about this (here: http://itssoeasybeinggreen.blogspot.com/2007/03/what-to-do-with-fidos-poop-week.html) that suggested using things like bread bags that you'd be throwing out anyway, which made me discover that bread bags have a recycling emblem on them. so I've started using previously used ziploc bags (I won't use them but my family does), it also mentions using found bags. there's always the pooper scooper option so you can bring it home and add a lot more to one bigger bag, but carrying it with more than one dog can be difficult. the article also talks about using things like newspaper to scoop up the poop with, so you could theoretically carry a reusable, washable bag (some are made specifically for carrying poo bags) and place the poo-filled paper into it to bring home to a garbage bag. if you use butcher paper, that could be a good use for it.

Andrea
Andrea

I want to reiterate what has been said about not flushing cat litter. I don't use SwheatScoop, but I do use a supposedly-flushable product called the World's Best Cat Litter, made from corn cobs. This is an ecologically sound and relatively dust-free product, and I flushed it for a couple of years without any problem--until the day that the pipe outside my house leading to the sewer backed up. I had a couple of inches of raw sewerage in my bathroom, which required a team of professionals to clean. The washer and drier needed to be moved. The drywall had to be removed, replaced, and repainted. Items on the floor were ruined. The entire area needed to be disinfected and treated to prevent mold buildup. I don't even want to think about the chemicals that were used in this process. Don't make the same mistake. Now I scoop litter into a paper bag that's placed in the plastic bag the litter came in. I re-use the litter bag many times and put the paper bag into the garbage. I'm going to try making the newspaper cone someone else recommended here instead of the paper bag.

Muse
Muse

Just a question: why do you throw your dryer lint in the garbage?

Steve
Steve

Beth - Where do you find the bulk tofu, and is it local organic or GMO/rainforest tofu? My wife threw out my used floss I was saving to knit into mittens. ;-( Steve

Leanne
Leanne

We do the same with our rubbish. No garbage bags needed :-) Packaging gets recycled. Tied with string and to the kerb once a week. I'll admit to some plastic here, and some non-recyclables going in our wheelie bin for landfill, but hey, I'm no Fake Plastic Fish! Food waste gets composted. We're vegetarian, so we don't have meat products to worry about, which shouldn't go in the compost. We even compost citrus, as we don't use enough of it to be a problem. Our kitchen is for packaging bits that can't get recycled. That's UHT milk containers, plastic bags from inside boxes of dry goods (e.g. the plastic packets inside cereal boxes), plastic from cheese packaging, yoghurt containers that we simply can't re-use. There aren't a lot of these, and the kitchen bin (not very big) only gets emptied once per week for hygiene reasons primarily. If someone (a guest) dumps something messy in the bin by mistake, we just wash it out when it gets emptied. We've got our waste to the kerb down to about 1/3rd of what our neighbours produce - and that's with two young kids! We're fussy about what we buy as well, and try to buy bulk, reducing packaging further. We're nowhere near as good as Beth, but if a family of four (with young kids) can really reduce their garbage AND not use garbage bags, then anyone can! Thanks for a thoughtful post on this subject, Beth :-) .-= Leanne´s last blog ..Wingatui summer morning =-.

Rob
Rob

Oooops! Didn't want to give the impression that I don't take my own bags to stores (I do) but I still get plastic bags snuck on me! Not so much anymore, as folks look at me as a violent, ill tempered, eco nut! .-= Rob´s last blog ..Charge It!!! =-.

Rob
Rob

I reuse bags until they fall apart. Or as folks at work say here come's Rob with another holy bag! .-= Rob´s last blog ..Charge It!!! =-.

rachel
rachel

well, the tesco guy delivered with a bunch of bags even though I asked for them not to. so I guess that solves my dilemma for the time being. Maybe it is a better option anyway because they do "degrade" but they won't let off methane... I hope. Some people are complaining about cleaning out the bucket for compost. I just line mine with paper -- office paper or newspaper -- and dump it. The paper goes into the compost and I reline it or it stays in and I reuse the liner. It works pretty well for me. I am going to try switching my cat over to shredded paper instead of litter, and composting that, with maybe a separate compost for solids. He likes to go outside when the weather is better, so it would be nice to have a place to clear all that up to. Since most of our waste is kitty litter that will reduce it significantly.

SusanB
SusanB

I have to agree with Caitlin with respect to ordinary trash which is picked up here by garbage men with an ordinary garbage truck from individual garbage cans that we haul to our front yard curbside. We try to reduce trash and compost (without plastic bags of any kind) and recycle (curbside pickup without bags), but we still have trash and the best way to make sure it gets to the landfill and not back into my yard or the street or somewhere else is to contain it in a bag that is approximately the right size for the amount of trash.

Caitlin
Caitlin

I'll start by saying that I really admire all that you do and have made some great and easy changes in my own life based on your ideas. But I've got to question this one. Maybe you garbage is collected differently, but our is collected into a traditional old garbage truck. Anything that's not in a bag, and therefore weighed down by the rest of the stuff in that bag, simply blows out of the truck. We try to reduce our trash production, make responsible choices for bags, and only toss full bags, but in the end the impact of those few bags seems less important to me than the potential impact of everything in them ending up as litter.

aaron
aaron

There are some new ideas that I have been reading about lately that make Recycling more fun and appealing. While we shouldn't need any more incentive then what we already have, these ideas can be effective. Here is a really cool article about one of those ideas; the Recycling Lottery. http://thegreenertruth.com/2010/02/recycling-lottery/

Danielle Bothwell
Danielle Bothwell

Excellent article! Lots of great info, thanks! I was using seventh gen bags, thinking they were great...I like the idea of using no bag at all. I recycle alot too. THANKS!

Patty
Patty

I am currios about composting and using the bio bags. I have a back yard composter and had been using a bucket in the house to collect things. I was finding I wouldn't take it out often enough b/c it was a hastle to clean it so I purchased a set of biobags (for convenience-gulty). Now I still don't empty the bucket often and by time I do the bag is no longer a bag on the bottom (juice from tomatoes and oranges?) but has already decomposed so I'm back to having to clean it. I know a quick solution would just take it outside more often perhaps but I just feel like there is something else going on... And on that same note...our city is now requiring compostable bags be used for yard trimmings so they can do city wide composting. I think this is great-full supporter (although we'll likely continue just using out backyard system)...BUT if people set out a bag of damp grass trimmings in a hot and humid climate and the pick up truck doesn't come for a few days will there be the same issue of the bag pre-decomposing? I've got two dogs so I'm researching those options as well...

Rosa
Rosa

I wouldn't flush Swheat stuff either - your poor plumber/landlord! We composted it for quite a while, but now we throw it out - our trash is burned, and wheat & poop don't combust into any bad chemicals, so I'm okay with that. Our recycling pickup won't take stuff that's not in paper bags. We actually go get paper grocery bags about once a month just for this. I've found that I never run out of plastic bags, though, even though I don't buy or accept them myself - other people provide plenty, I pick them out of bushes & trees and runoff grates all over the neighborhood. Plus my mom saves them and balls them up and uses them as packing material when she sends us packages. Maybe someday there will be enough plastic bag bans that I'll be able to use some of these tips.

GreenInOC
GreenInOC

Just re-read my comment and realized that I didn't make it clear that I put the liner right back into the garbage can. The liner is really a plastic bucket. Still facing the dog poop quandary!

Joseph Condron
Joseph Condron

Excellent article. We use an ordinary compost bin. However, we can't throw some leftover cooked food into that. So we may consider getting tiger worms to do the composting. Great reading - keep up the good work. .-= Joseph Condron´s last blog ..Quotes On Challenging Conventions =-.

Elodie
Elodie

This is quite a good idea; I would feel bad for the garbage men, though! Elodie Slim Girl Diary

Eleanor
Eleanor

Beth - just so you know, I flushed the Swheat Scoop litter for about two years before my plumbing lines clogged. The plumber that roto-routered us out said, without being told or prompted, that we were flushing some form of granules (he then guessed cat litter of some kind, having seen the cats), that had completely clogged the sewage line. Granted, my house was built in 1925, and probably hasn't had its plumbing or sewage upgrades since, but fair warning! So I started burying it in my hardpan clay in the backyard, a sort of non-food crops composting process that I keep separate from my food composting piles. That's also where I compost my animal products waste (chicken skins, bones, etc). It's buried so that the roaming suburban coyotes, possums, and coons don't dig it up and spread it around. We also shred our paper waste (unless it's envelopes with windows or magazines, or anything too shiny), including tissues and papertowels, to give bulk to the compost - we have no land to make straw, hay, or other high carbon crop. So that helps keep the compost from smelling. But winter happened, and all our piles are under three feet of snow and counting. Worms will only eat veggies (no fats, no meats, no egg shells), or so I've been told. If we don't bury our food wastes, possums, crows, and the like will spread it all over our neighbors lawns, and we'll get some serious and deserved grief. I don't have a dirt floor in my basement, so I'm not exactly sure what to do. When it thaws I guess I could build a cold case to house the compost? Anybody have any ideas for what to do until we thaw?

rachel
rachel

interesting post. I initiated a plastic bag ban in our flat and bought some bio bags to use for trash bags. They collect trash differently here, by hand instead of a big truck that picks up the whole bin and empties it, so a lot of times they refuse to pick up trash that is not in bags. now i don't know if its better to continue doing that or to take plastic grocery bags from work instead of them being sent to recycling. it would be more cost effective, but only by about 10p a week since that is the cost of the bio bag we use. =(

axelle fortier
axelle fortier

Another litter box trick: I keep a very, very thin layer of litter in the box and clean the box once a day for my two cats. I tilt the litterbox so everything falls to one end and scrape any wet litter that's stuck to the bottom of the box with an old credit card, thwack it into the paper cone, and wipe off what sticks to the card with a piece of toilet paper. I pick up solids with a litter scoop. The litter scoop stays clean since the credit card scrapes up the sticky stuff e-z. .-= axelle fortier´s last blog ..Shame =-.

axelle fortier
axelle fortier

1. Take one full sheet of newspaper and fold it into a half sheet. 2. Fold again into a quarter sheet. 3. Fluff it so that it becomes a cone. 4. Insert into a container that will hold it upright such as a quart yogurt container, a cardboard half gallon ice cream container, a plastic quart container of milk that you've sliced in half with a bread knife, or a plastic half-gallon jug of vinegar that you've sliced in half. You will have removed these containers in someone else's recycle bin and taken them for your own personal use, of course. 5. Scoop cat-pee balls and cat poop into the cone until it's 3/4 full. 6. Place another full sheet of newspaper on a flat surface and place the used-litter cone in the center, tucking in the ends. 7. Wrap the newspaper around the cone as if it's a present. 8. Tuck one end of the newspaper into the other end, nice and tight, so the package won't undo itself. 9. Press down lightly into package to make it look kind of pretty. 10. Place in garbage can. When the package is tucked securely, no litter gets out. No muss, no mess. There is definitely an odor, but the packages look so nice that it's hard to believe the odor is coming from them and not something else. .-= axelle fortier´s last blog ..Shame =-.

Glenda
Glenda

Good info about the compostable dog waste bags. I had switched to using those, thinking they were a better choice. But since I'm sending them to the landfill, they're not as great a choice as I originally thought. Bummer. Hubby and I had looked into the dog waste composters before and it didn't seem to be a good option for us, but now I can't remember why so I'll have to revisit the idea with him and see if he remembers. .-= Glenda´s last blog ..“Green” Posts Follow-Up: Part Three – Laundry Room & Other =-.

Maddie
Maddie

I have never used plastic bags for the kitty litter. I lay out about three sheets of newspaper, sift the litter onto the paper, fold it up and place on the garbage. It is very tidy and less gross looking because every thing is wrapped in the paper. When I change the whole litter box I just use the now-empty kitty litter bag which isn't recyclable anyway. Honestly, I can't imagine using plastic bags for cleaning ou the litter box.

Laurie-Ann
Laurie-Ann

Although I'm not proud that the food my cats like comes in a plastic lined bag, I have discovered that cat food bags make great trash bags. They are headed for the landfill anyway and are quite sturdy.

Amber
Amber

I wrestled with this one myself some time ago. We have kids, and so we have rather more wet waste than I would like. Children just come with goo. Also, while we compost we don't have a city program that accepts anything beyond yard clippings, so we can't compost stuff like bones or cheese or leftover peanut butter sandwiches without risking pests in our backyard. Our city is on the path to implementing broader composting, but in the meantime we're going the old shopping bag route as much as we can. If the garbage is dry we re-use the bag. If it's not, we don't. I wish there were a better option, but until our city steps up to the plate I don't see what it is. .-= Amber´s last blog ..18-month-old Jacob =-.

Deb Moulton
Deb Moulton

You are my hero. I have been reading for quite a long time, but I am a serial lurker. So now it is time to share. In my quest to eliminate plastic from my life, I have found one problem; the plastic bag type thing that 12 rolls of toilet paper comes in. I use cloth wipes but the rest of my family is resistant to change. I cut the bag open carefully and use that as a trash can liner. I dump the garbage out several times before I have to change it. We live in So. Cal. and have great green waste and recycling bins. The regular garbage is usually not very full.

Michele
Michele

I love your blog and look forward to reading it every day. I learn so much from you and pass what I learn along to anyone who will listen. Dryer lint doesn't have to be thrown out. It can be collected and place outside for the birds to use in their nests.

Christi Spangler
Christi Spangler

Great blog! We're doing all those things in my home too! In an effort to eliminate plastics or at least reduce them, I stopped lining our garbage can with plastic bags. I found there is really no reason to do so. Our garbage bin under the sink doesn't get really messy garbage anyway because we compost all our kitchen waste. When I first made the change I was concerned with if it would cause problems on garbage pick up day with litter or debris that might escape the garbage truck. So I woke early and camped out on the front porch waiting for the garbage truck to come. When they arrived I watched with my fingers crossed for luck as the mechanical arm grabbed our garbage tote and dumped it into the truck. No problem. Every bit of the trash went right into the gaping maw of the truck and not a scrap was scattered into the surrounding area! Yay! Christi .-= Christi Spangler´s last blog ..Of Gardens, Garbage & Goo! =-.

t-shirts lex
t-shirts lex

my friend has told me all about composting and i think it is a really great environmentally friendly way. I am going to start composting all the wet stuff and food and cut out the trash bags. very interesting blog, thank you!

Ashley
Ashley

I don't really have much to add. When we started de-cluttering the house I would salvage bins to hold the recyclables (I separate the plastics by number). The new recyclers in town told me that they were asked by the refuse company to start collecting non-crv plastics. Anywho... so I've got a row of large paper shopping bags and random plastic bins and it dawned on me this week that half of our garbage bag consumption was still going towards the recycled stuff. We bag our crv stuff, wait till there are about 10 bags, then haul it to the recyclers. I hate waiting and having the bags piled up, and it just hit me how rediculous it was to use the garbage bags to hold cans. If I just crushed them (like I use to) and throw them into the bin without a bag, then by the time it gets full, the other bins of random plastic would be ready to take to the recyclers as well. This blog really gets me thinking on some of the silly choices our household makes and I've just got to thank you for that! :) .-= Ashley´s last blog .."God said... get out of debt" =-.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

We switched to newspaper a year or so ago and haven't bought BioBags since.  Thanks.  I've updated the post.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

I think everyone needs to make choices and there are impacts from cat litter no matter what choice you make.  In a landfill, organic material (like wheat litter) will create methane gas (a strong greenhouse gas) as it breaks down.  I figure that if we had kids, there would be a lot more material going down the toilet on a daily basis.  Our cats are our kids.  I'm not saying it's the right decision for everyone, but it works for us.

Nora L
Nora L

@Claretta Freeman I totally empathize with this comment! It can be quite overwhelming. I am a very busy, working, single mom of three year old twins. My take home message is just going to be doing a few things at a time to decrease my plastic waste. For instance, I have been really lazy about getting plastic bags at the farmers market. I am going to start taking bags with me from now on!

CynthiaWatanabe
CynthiaWatanabe

 @Claretta Freeman Find one thing to start with. That's what I did years ago. For example, I live in an apt so recycling is more difficult. I started with using my grocery bags for throwing away my garbage. That way, I didn't buy new plastic bags. Depending upon where I live I now have more options for recycling and have increased my efforts along the way. Each small effort we do multiplies in time. One person can make a difference. You can make a difference.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

 @Claretta Freeman Step by step. That is what I encourage in my book.  Do the easy things first.  Tackle the harder things after you have mastered the low hanging fruit.  In fact, I have a whole chapter in my book in how to deal with feeling overwhelmed.  Cheers!

Meechity
Meechity

 @Claretta Freeman Adopt little tiny habits over time. Don't try to do everything, or feel bad that you can't be a hero. :) Feel *great* that you have the genuine heart to try! (^_^)

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Muse. And welcome. When you ask why I throw garbage lint in the garbage, what do you mean? As I mentioned above, since some of it contains synthetic fibers, it can't be composted. Is there something else you would do with it?

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Steve! OMG that cracks me up. And grosses me out too. I get bulk organic tofu at a store called Berkeley Bowl in... um, can you guess? Berkeley! Also, Rainbow Grocery in SF has it too. It's local tofu. Where do you live, Steve?

Monica
Monica

you could use some of the lint to put out for nesting animals (birds/squirrels).  when i had a dryer, i put it in a suet feeder. the birds would come & help themselves.

Trackbacks

  1. Friday Favourites | Sustainable Initiatives Fund | Blog says:

    [...] A few more ideas on collecting household waste without plastic bags from Fake Plastic Fish. [...]

  2. [...] Beth Terry, can do it… we can too! Furthermore, I always find it a challenge to purchase recycled brands and at [...]

  3. [...] and I’m just wrapping up my plastic-less garbage… in plastic. One blogger has done some research into this, and it looks like I might not have an answer for now. [...]