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Trash Bags
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November 3, 2009
1:34 pm
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August 22, 2011
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How do you dispose of your rubbish? I live in a flat, and there's no way to compost. All garbage is supposed to be placed in a plastic bag before it is placed in the bin. There's no way I'm going to go out and buy plastic trash bags, and we don't get the plastic bags from the supermarket because we use cloth bags.

What I've been doing is picking up plastic bags that I see littering the streets, which I take home and use as trash bags. The only problem is that they aren't as impermeable as the store-bought bags, so I cut up any wet garbage we might have and put it in the toilet, even though I've read that the authorities don't want people to do this. I suppose they think it will make people use more water, but we don't flush until it's absolutely necessary (If it's yellow, it's mellow; it it's brown, flush it down).

How do the rest of you deal with this?

November 3, 2009
2:05 pm
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Hi Ekdog,

Flats are a difficult issue in the UK as well. Communal facilities tend to suffer from spoilage, whose source is unknown. A concierge-type person could supervise recycling facilities, for a rent/council tax deduction. Councils have still to sort procedures for this type of housing.

If plastic bags are weak you should double-up for resilience. You are helping the litter situation as well as there is nothing good about plastic bags flying free in the environment.

November 3, 2009
6:09 pm
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Hi Ekdog. I agree with John on this one. We are fortunate to have city-wide composting here in Oakland, CA.

Some people in apartments purchase worm bins to compost their own food waste. A worm bin might not take up much space and doesn't smell as long as you provide the right proportion of food to shredded newspaper.

If composting is simply not possible, I would do as John does and collect used grocery bags. That's what we used before we went plastic-free.

I don't advocate compostable bags for landfill garbage any more because they do not break down properly in a landfill environment.

Question: Are you required to use a plastic bag for non-food garbage too? Can you keep the two separate so that you are only using plastic bags for food and lessening how many you need?

November 3, 2009
10:04 pm
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August 22, 2011
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With regard to your question, Beth, we are supposed to use a plastic bag for all garbage, whether food or non-food, but I must admit I sometimes cheat and throw stuff into the bin without a bag.

We hardly have any non-food rubbish because we recycle the paper, metal, glass and plastic containers we use, and, of course, we try to use as little as possible.

November 3, 2009
10:08 pm
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@John UK: I'd hate to double up as that would increase the amount of plastic that ends up in the landfills.

November 4, 2009
9:11 am
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Hi Ekdog,

The idea is simply to find an answer to the problem, and doubling works. The new plastic bags are thinner, and therefore weaker. Alternatively, you could try to find another way to deal with food waste eg pets, garden birds.

November 6, 2009
1:59 am
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Ek, where we live, people ignore the rules and plastic-bag recyclables. So I do a double good deed if I empty those bags (freeing the recyclables) and use them myself for garbage. Wonder if that might work where you are. Another source of plastic bags is any school of higher education (college). Drop by at the end of the school year as students are dumping everything they've collected during the year. I did this at my daughter's dorm and picked up loads of brand new folded up garbage bags (more than 13 gallon size). That was last summer and I still have many left.

November 17, 2009
3:48 pm
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August 22, 2011
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Could you use paper bags instead? I know it's not a great option, but maybe if you can't find enough plastic orphaned bags it might help, or you could use paper inside plastic for the plastic that aren't that durable. I second the worm-bin idea, but I thought that won't work for oils or animal products (not a big problem if you're vegan, or only eat meat out). My grandparents used to put those out for the racoons (otherwise the racoons would go digging in the trash for them), but they had a yard. So what do people with worm bins do with animal products?

If you've got any friends with a yard, you could try to convince them to compost it. My coworkers and relatives who don't compost often save a container for me if they've got waste (pumpkin guts, old jackolanterns, dead flowers, teabags, etc). I even know someone through freecycle who saves compost for me. Maybe save up a decent amount and post it to freecycle or craigslist? One man's trash is another's treasure?

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