Alternatives to Dressing Your Trash Cans in Plastic “Underwear.”

Everyone does it- right?  We have gotten to accept the fact that in this country everything comes wrapped in plastic- right down to our trash.  At this point it’s amazing we’re not born wrapped in plastic!  Every year 500 BILLION plastic bags are used worldwide.  The US uses 100 billion of those bags. 

So what’s the big deal? Well…plastics are made from fossil fuels and contribute to climate change from their production. It takes 300 years or more for a bag to breakdown.  Furthermore when they do breakdown, they disintegrate into micro-particles that contaminate soils, waterways, and oceans causing devastating effects when they are consumed by wildlife.

Here’s the news – trash cans don’t need plastic underwear. Before the 1980’s, households managed to do just fine without them, including mine when I was a kid.  Yikes, the ick factor! Not so fast- here’s how to eliminate them…

  1. Office and bathrooms– this is dry garbage. Collect in a central receptacle and dump.
  2. Compost bins & cat litter– line with newspaper. 
  3. Kitchen garbage– Line bottom with newspaper
  4. Main garbage can– – Line bottom with newspaper

For # 2, 3, & 4: spray with a garden hose or fill partially with hot water, add a couple drops of dish soap, swish with a brush or sponge then rinse and dry. sprinke in baking soda to eliminate odors.

Other options?

  • Recycled plastic bags don’t use as much virgin plastic- but are still plastic.
  • So-called “biodegradable” plastic bags are not fully biodegradable, have chemicals in them, use energy to be produced, and give off methane.
  • Paper bags- these are better pollution wise but they still use up trees and take energy to be produced.
  • The best bag is NO bag.  Use the ones you’ve got.  For a start, at least try eliminating the bags in your dry garbage cans, keep the kitchen garbage one, and skip the big garbage can. If you work in an office, put a sticky note on the can that says no plastic bag please.

Save yourself some money and help the environment with this simple change.  It’s really no big deal.

Here’s a humorous video to give you more ideas….

Illustration by the author

Photo by Anna Shvets,

Also blogging at By Alanna Pass


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