Two Affordable Alternatives to Small Plastic Trash Bags
While I've found an alternative for large kitchen trash bags that I feel really great about, the use of the smaller plastic bags for bathroom trash has remained a hurtle I didn't know how to jump. The solution remained elusive. Until now. By Jove, I think I've found it. Ready to take the leap with me?
I don't know if any of you have spent as much time scouring the internet for suggestions on this issue as I have, but the ideas out there are a bit dismal. Some hard core environmentalists have actually gotten brave enough to give up garbage bags altogether. While I have nothing but kudos to throw their way, the “ick” factor has kept me from doing that in all trash containers but the one in our office.
I've been dealing with my residual plastic bag dilemma by reusing the same bathroom trash liner as much as possible, but the truth is things eventually get gross enough where it just has to be tossed. Add to that the fact that I'm rapidly running out of smaller plastic bags since finding an affordable produce alternative, and you can start to see how quickly this situation is reaching critical mass at my house. I remain committed to reducing the plastic waste we generate however, which is why I've spent even more hours than usual this week searching for the tiniest glimmer of transitional hope. Turns out the seeds of inspiration came from a gift wrapping post I'm researching, and one of Wise Bread's readers.
Unbleached Waxed Paper Liners
I'll admit this was quite a search, and in the end I only found the solution by accident. My quest started when Malcom, a Wise Bread reader who commented on my plastic packaging reduction article, mentioned that store bought bread loaves used to come in waxed paper bags. (Malcom buddy, you didn't leave a link so I can't show the world how to find you.) This started me thinking about what other types of waxed paper bags were available. Three days later, I was still bringing up sandwich bags with my search queries, no matter how many ways I reworded what I was looking for. Today, on a whim, I added the word large. The result? Wahoo!
Turns out the receptacle liners that hospitals and other places use for bathroom litter disposal are frequently made out of unbleached waxed paper. From the pictures shown, they even have a flat bottom to help them stand up vertically. We have a few plastic bags to use up still, but are low enough on supply that I'll be ordering these ones from Amazon by the end of the week. At just under thirty dollars for a case of a few hundred, I can reuse them as much as possible and empty the contents only into the larger kitchen bag when we do the weekly check and dump of all smaller trash cans in the house. This should ensure our initial investment in the case of bags lasts us for several years. I'm excited. How about you?
Origami Newspaper Bags
This idea was also an unexpected find. I was researching super cool ways to go green with gift wrapping (stay tuned), and saw a link for a newspaper trash bin liner. Turns out there are a few different resources for this concept on the internet. So if you have an abundance of free labor at your house (children), this could be a free way to turn those Sunday papers you buy for coupons only into something that can help reduce your family's overall plastic consumption. Obviously they won't work for the super goopies, but can definitely be incorporated in the office, kids rooms and certain smaller trash containers. There are directions for tall and short varieties, as well as one or two additional video links to help you out. Personally, I think the taller ones have more of a shot at being functional in our house, but do what works for you.
I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. This one issue has been weighing on me for some time. Since we fell in love with the Perf Go Green bags I reviewed a while back for our kitchen trash, I ordered a case of them to last us for a good long while. But they aren't available in the small size and we're ready to make the transition. If this scenario is the same at your house, try these ideas out and keep me posted on the results. I'd love it if you'd share your success stories below, as well as any other unexpected solutions you've come up with. Let's hear it for going green with plastic reduction!
This article is part of Festival of Frugality's 2009 Memorial Day edition.