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At Rocking the Cloth, I want to share my desire with you to not only diaper our kids in a budget-savvy and eco-friendly way, but I also want to document my family’s journey on doing our best to create a low-key, wallet-friendly and environmentally friendly home. We are no where near perfect in this process. We are trying to make little changes all the time.
In my video about the Pros of Cloth Diapers I made yesterday, you may have heard the statistic saying that each person generates 30 lbs of garbage per week. For the average family, this adds up to over 100 lbs! That’s quite a bit of garbage. On top of this amount of garbage, we are disposing of it in plastic bags, and it’s been all over the news lately how much plastic is impacting our planet. Regardless of your opinions on environmental issues, this is something we can see, so there is no denying it. Will environmentally friendly trash bags make any sort of difference? Maybe. I firmly believe that any step we take, no matter how small, will help. For most of us (me included), responsibly handling our trash will be a process, not an instantaneous change. That’s okay!
What Do We Do About It?
It’s obvious we need to reduce the amount of plastic we are using and find other solutions. I already do this in many ways, including using reusable shopping bags, using bars of soap instead of plastic bottles, using reusable Tupperware for almost everything to reduce the amount of Ziplocs my family uses, finding a second purpose for any plastic bag that does come into our home, etc.
One area that my family has not figured out a good solution for yet is garbage bags.
First of all, the best thing we can do to lessen the impact garbage bags have on the planet is create less garbage! By creating less garbage, that is the best way to solve this problem.
Ideally, we would get to a point where we create so little garbage the kind of bag we use is not as big of a deal, but it’s not an overnight process. Our family still has garbage. In the meantime, we need to find something that is a little more environmentally friendly.
One cool thing about cloth diapers and cloth diaper accessories is that so many of them have a practical use around the house once baby is out of diapers. Once my youngest is potty trained, I plan to experiment with using the pail liners/wet bags as reusable garbage bags for smaller garbage cans. I’m sure I’ll have some kinks to work out once I give that a try, but I hope it ends up working out well!
Most of you have probably heard the mantra, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” What you may not have known is that those 3 words are put in a strategic order. Our first attempt should be at reducing the amount we use. If we can’t reduce, we should try to reuse, and finally if it can’t be reused, it should be recycled. This principle can be applied to almost any consumable good in our lives.
Reuse Garbage Bags
One way to make a more eco-friendly trash disposal choice is to combine garbages together in one bag for disposal as much as you can, and simply reuse the garbage bags that you aren’t throwing out as much as possible.
You can try to use a single garbage bag a few times before throwing it away for good, especially if you’re careful about rinsing away mess from food containers, composting anything you can, etc. to try and reduce how messy the trash is before throwing it out.
Be sure you contain all of your garbage into some sort of bag before putting it in your garbage bin, though. If you have ever driven behind a garbage truck, I’m sure you have seen how garbage can fly out! That is an environmental problem, too, so we need to contain the garbage in a bag. However, by combining all of our garbage into one bag as much as we can (and without breaking the bag), that can help reduce unnecessary plastic bag use.
Plant Based Garbage Bags
On top of reusing bags, I also want to find a more responsibly made/recyclable and/or biodegradable bag for when they do end up having to be thrown. Plant based garbage bags, like Hippo Sak Tall Kitchen Bags, are an 88% biobased product. These particular bags are made from sugar cane with renewable resources instead of fossil fuels. They are also 100% recyclable- score!
You may have picked up from my blog that I’m pretty economically minded, and one thing I was worried about on the pursuit of new trash bags was cost. As many of us know, eco-friendly products can often be more expensive.
One of my big reasons I won’t pay $0.20-$0.30 for a disposable diaper is that they just end up in a garbage after a few hours and later a landfill. Over the 2-3 years most kids are in diapers, that is could be as much as $1500-$2000. $1500-$2000 you spent just to throw something away. The idea is the same with trash bags–they’re things we buy to literally throw away! So cost was definitely an important factor to me.
The Hippo Sak Tall Kitchen Bags price isn’t too bad–it’s comparable to some leading brands of garbage bags, but maybe not as cheap as generic brands. They have a better per unit price when you buy them in larger quantities.
This bag is VERY sturdy and you won’t have to worry about it breaking! It does much, much better at holding up than many regular garbage bags.
Biodegradable Trash Bags
The Eco-Smartbags Biodegradable Trash Bags is a completely biodegradable product. According to the company, this product decomposes naturally on its own and turns to soil in 1 to 7 years. They can also be recycled, are non-toxic, and chemical free.
The company also states that they are compostable, but in my research I read some debate about whether or not that is actually true. The biggest complaint against these trash bags is that some composting facilities have been unable to accept them, so if you plan to use them for that purpose you need to check your own compost facility requirements to make sure they actually meet the standards needed.
Price-wise, these bags are a little more expensive than the average garbage bag, but their reviews on durability are excellent. It would be a worthy purchase for a more eco-friendly garbage bag if you are willing to spend a little more.
One criticism against biodegradable items is that in order for things to biodegrade, you need certain conditions a landfill can’t offer. However, this product supposedly biodegrades without specific oxygen, heat, light, moisture, or mechanical requirements.
Sustainably-Made Trash Bags from Recycled Materials
There are a few brands of trash bags out there that are made from a good percentage of recycled materials and in a way that reduces the company’s carbon footprint. One of these is the Evolution Trash Bags. They are made from 70% recycled materials, are EPA compliant and exceed the EPA procurement guidelines by 700%. These bags are not biodegradable, but because they are made from a high percentage of recycled plastics, they are giving a second life those materials.
These bags are also reasonably priced–about as competitively as a standard brand of garbage bags (maybe slightly better), but not as cheap as generics.
Getting a trash bag made from recycled materials may actually be the greenest option you can choose. With all the debate surrounding whether or not biodegradable things are actually biodegradable, at least these aren’t pretending to be. These are giving a second life to plastics, which is a great way to overall reduce the amount of plastic we use.
Making the Right Decision
I want to encourage you that you will make the right decision for your garbage bags based on what you’re able to do. There is no perfect solution, and there is some debate over if any garbage bag is really biodegradable despite what the manufacturer says, so all we can do is make the best choice for our circumstances.
For those of us on a tight budget, that may mean regular garbage bags that we try to treat gently so we can reuse them. For others of us, it may mean looking into and purchasing new products.
Do you have a better idea? Something I’m overlooking? Drop it in the comments!