Tuesday, June 26, 2007

How to Dispose of Trash Without Using Plastic Bags

We had a great question from one of our readers, Midlife Traveller, who is using reusable shopping bags but wonders now how to handle the trash without using plastic bags. This is not as easy an answer as the shopping bags, but here are some possible suggestions:

Separate your trash and recycle as much as possible. Check with your trash disposal service and find out exactly what items they will recycle. There may be more recycling options than you realize. Also check with the municipality where you live to see if they have any separate recycling programs available for additional items.

Consider composting food wastes, paper, and other organically based products. Composting is a much easier proposition today than it used to be and there are several great composters on the market that can make the job easier and relatively clean. See the example we have outlined below. You can use biodegradable trash bags in the trash containers you are using for any items you are going to compost.

What remains of your trash should actually be fairly minimal. Items such as meat products you may want to use a food waste disposer or you may need to use a plastic trash bag for these items, as they are not compostable. Other non-recyclables I would just put directly into a trash can for pick-up, no bag needed.

This type of trash system will obviously take a bit of effort on your part, but will greatly reduce the amount of trash going to the landfills, will increase the amount of items going to the recycling plants, and will provide you with some rich, organic compost to fertilize your gardens. There are obviously many benefits to making the extra effort.

Here is a great little compost bin you may want to consider:

The Envirocycle Composter The Envirocycle Composter
Make your own compost!

Envirocycle has created this composter which produces quality compost and compost tea quickly and easily. It’s user-friendly, eliminates mess and odor, and is compact making it perfect for those with limited space.
Envirocycle Simplifies Composting

The Envirocycle composter is specifically designed to simplify the recycling of kitchen and garden refuse. It produces quality compost more quickly and easily than conventional composters by its rolling and mixing action which keeps the ingredients well mixed and aerated.

Makes Rich Compost Tea

This enviro cycle unit also makes compost tea, a rich organic liquid plant food appreciated by gardeners everywhere. Use it on your house plants, outdoor plants, flowers, trees, shrubs, garden and lawn.


You may also want to consider biodegradable trash bags. These should only be used when the trash will be composted, as, like any other plastic bag, they will not break down in a sealed environment such as a landfill.

The bags shown below are for pet waste, but they are also available in other sizes for use in the home.

Biodegradable and Compostable
These BioBag Pet Waste Bags are 100% Biodegradable and 100% Compostable. BioBags help to make cleaning up after Fido a little more earth friendly. Made from cornstarch, these bags help to eliminate regular plastic bags from our environment. When disposed, BioBags will biodegrade as naturally as food scraps, leaving no harmful residue.

No Polyethylene
No Polyethylene is used in the production of this product. BioBags are GMO free, certified for use in organic agriculture, yet are shelf stable – just like paper towels.

Contains 50 full-sized bags
Measure 11.5” high x 7.8” wide (Large enough for even big Fido’s!)

Click Here


Let us know if you have any additional ideas for environmentally friendly waste disposal. The best way to make things better is the free exchange of ideas!


Midlife Traveller said...

Thank you for the suggestions. A few points that others might raise as well: 1) We live in a small apartment in a dense urban area; our city does provide worm composter kits for apartments and the one you linked to might fit on a balcony, but most balconies here are pretty small 2) We have no house plants nor outdoor plants that could benefit from composting, which is mainly why we haven't done it (we have two small children who love to destroy plants, lol) but you made me realize that I might be able to give the compost away. 3) we have a garbage chute in our apartment and are not allowed to toss any unbagged waste, so much as I wish I could just dump what's left in the bin, it's not allowed. With that said, your point about working at reducing waste to reduce the need for bags is well made and has me thinking...thanks!

kendall said...

in support of the reference to food waste disposers, most people don't realize that most wastewater treatment plants are quite good at making compost-quality fertilizer products from the combo of human and food waste they process (food is 70% water, after all); if you can do it in your backyard, that's great, but keeping organics out of landfills is first goal, second is making useful products from them...

The Be Green Team said...

Kendall - Thanks for the excellent points regarding using food waste disposers. It certainly is a better alternative than adding more waste to the landfills.


The Be Green Team said...

Midlife Traveller - I can definitely relate to the kids destroying things, lol, they seem to specialize in destruction! I think you should be commended for your continued efforts to reduce waste despite that facts it is not very convenient in your current location. Keep up the great work!

Envirocycle Composter said...

The Envirocycle spinning composter is easy keep my compost ingredients well mixed with just a push a couple of times per week.

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