Mar 30 2011

I don’t need no stinkin’ plastic liners [day 307]

I quit using plastic garbage bags, or any type of plastic lining in my trash cans.  Why?  I just don’t see why we need to place trash in plastic bags, taking much longer for it to decompose in a landfill.  I thought back to my kids earlier diaper days and the Diaper Genie.  I had one and used it for about a week, but I never understood why it was a good idea to turn dirty diapers into plastic sausage links.  It made no sense to me whatsoever.

I have, what most people consider, a very small trash can and recycling bin in my house.  They’re so small they fit under the sink cabinet.  They’re both plastic bins, making them easy to wash and they don’t leak.  Also, the small size makes them easy for my kids to empty into the outdoor containers.

I ran out of plastic liners a few months ago.  I decided to try going linerless.  It felt a little weird at first, but soon I started to wonder why I ever used plastic liners in the first place.  They really don’t do anything other than make the trash less biodegradable.  If I have some wet trash, typically food, I can place that in another piece of trash like a plastic wrapper from another piece of food.  This new system has been good.  No issues to report.  Buying things to purposely throw away is making less and less sense to me.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned in this process and a few tips I’ve picked up in researching this topic.

Biodegradable garbage bags. These bags cost a bit more, but if you absolutely need a trash liner, this is a good way to go.

Repurpose shopping bags. Instead of buying bags, reuse the ones you get from shopping.  They’re usually not big, but just consider it a motivation to cut down on the amount of trash you produce.  Use these for the ‘wet trash’ only when needed.

Learn what can and can’t be recycled. You would be surprised at the list of what can and can’t go into the recycling bin.  Pizza boxes?  No, because they have grease on them.  Styrofoam?  Yes, they started recycling this a couple of years ago.  I’ve found that most waste can be recycled.  We fill up our recycle bin way before the trash bin.

Separate your trash into bins. Some people have a compost-type bin for food trash, separate from the regular trash.  I have a separate bin for plastic caps so I can take them to Aveda for recycling.  I don’t do composting yet, but the change in our grocery shopping habits yield way less waste and trash.

Consider composting. I’m still considering it.  :)

Repurpose you trash.  If you need a liner for something, use a bread wrapper or potato chip bag.  You’re not adding anything to the trash and you’re not spending money buying fancy plastic liners to make your trash more attractive for the garbage truck.

Use plastic washable containers. Get rid of the metal trash cans, use small plastic ones, then you won’t need liners.

If you’re not sure about this, try it for a week.  You can always go back to using liners.  If nothing else, you’re saving money on trash.


Jul 7 2010

the challenge: day 41 [an island of green… bags]

I got to tour a private island yesterday.  The owners are really wonderful people and the island is absolutely beautiful.  After seeing the rocks, the landscape, the ocean views and the beach, if I had to guess at what I would see next, I would have not guessed in a million years what I saw.  On the back porch of the house was a green bag, filled with green bags.  Now let’s think about this.

Island living 101: It’s a lot of work to bring stuff onto the island and it’s a lot of work to take stuff off the island.

Annie had to go grocery shopping when she took us back to the mainland.  She not only remembered the green bags, she had to remember to get them from the back porch, walk them down the steep hill, onto the boat dock, then onto the boat.  Once on the  mainland, she had to remember to bring them off the boat, into the car, and then finally, into the store.  Wow!  Annie is setting a great example for all of us, not just with green bags, but being green in general.

Green island living: There are no trash pick ups or trash dumps on an island.

We went into the kitchen and the first thing I saw was the old-fashioned heating oven, but right after that masterpiece, I saw the recycling set up.  “Paper, or anything that burns” and “trash, no recycling”, and on the counter “biodegradables, for seagulls”.  On an island, you can’t just throw your recycling in a large bin out back and wait for your weekly pick up.  Not only are these people intentional about the trash and recycling, but they have to carry it off the island to the mainland to get it to the recycling center.  The thing is, they don’t have to do this, but they do.

I’m very intentional about my recycling, but when I have that little voice in the back of my head, complaining about the extra effort to do the right thing, I will think about my island experience.  Thank you Bob and Annie for making the extra effort to be green.