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Plastic bags aren’t the most environmentally friendly option to hold your garbage. When you throw out your trash, that plastic sits in the landfill instead of being recycled. But what can you use to line your trash can? Most mass-market trash bags are made of plastic, and so are the shopping bags you might use in small trash cans. What other options do you have?
A growing number of retailers are phasing plastic bags out of their business entirely. In some places, getting a plastic bag means having to pay an additional ten cents. Other businesses simply don’t keep plastic bags on hand anymore and ask that their customers either carry their purchases out by hand or bring their own cloth bags.
Keep reading to learn more about environmentally- friendly alternatives and to find out about some eco-friendly waste removal tips.
Compostable, Biodegradable, and Degradable Bags
When you’re looking for environmentally friendly options, plant-based plastics are the right solution. However, it’s important that you understand the difference between these types of bags. Some are made of degradable plastic, others of biodegradable plastic, and still others of compostable plastic.
Degradable plastic bags are known for being environmentally friendly, but they’re not particularly impressive. The plastic is engineered with an extra substance that causes it to break into minuscule pieces of plastic. But the bag won’t break down further than that, which means that the microplastics will infest the environment. Even though they’re broken down into small pieces, they behave like normal plastic: they don’t disappear for centuries. Because they can’t be seen, birds and fish both consume them, and they disrupt ecosystems when they end up in the soil. In many ways, these bags are even worse than your average plastic bag.
The problem with normal and degradable plastic bags is that they’re made from petrochemicals. These chemicals don’t break down naturally, so they take up space in the environment and stifle organic growth. They also find their way into the digestive systems of many creatures, especially when they’re dumped into the ocean.
Compostable and Biodegradable
Experts recommend investing in plastic bags that have been composed of plant starch, instead of petrochemicals. Bags that are fully compostable and biodegradable are made from this type of material. Unlike petrochemicals, plant starch will break down naturally over time and become part of the soil again.
You should note that the compost heap at your home will be very different from composting that happens on a commercial scale. When composting is done on an industrial level, the area becomes very hot, and the bags then turn into compost.
If you pick a compostable bag, but it’s meant for industrial composting rather than residential composting, so don’t try to compost it at home. It will take a great deal of time before that matter has become organic again.
No matter what decision you make, experts recommend finding bags that have been certified by third parties. It’s also helpful to check on the standards that manufacturers must meet to receive the third party approval. Some kinds of biodegradable plastic are designed to become organic matter within a few weeks, while others might take years to undergo the same process.
If you want to stop using plastic entirely, there are several options for you. One of the most popular is the use of “organic origami.” You fold paper into the shape of your bins and use that as a liner. You can find tutorial videos online that teach you how to create a liner for different bin shapes. Some tutorial videos even showcase young children learning the folds to prove that anybody is capable of mastering it.
This origami technique is most commonly done using old newspapers. If you don’t get a newspaper, and you don’t have other basic paper that you want to recycle, zero-waste experts recommend asking for old newspapers at a local cafe or news agency.
Tips to Reduce Your Plastic Bin Needs
To reduce your need for garbage disposal, your easiest strategy will be to reduce the amount of garbage you throw out. When you practice sustainable living, you might even find that a full liner isn’t necessary. People who make an effort to separate their wastes and compost their food scraps tend to throw away very little.
One alternative to food storage in plastic bags is to use a reusable beeswax wrap. These helpful wraps will cut down on your shopping costs and your carbon footprint, and you can find them decorated with cheerful designs.
You might even want to check your local event listings. Some health food shops and environmental councils will hold free wrap-making classes.
When you minimize your overall food waste, you’ll greatly reduce the amount of trash that ends up in your bin. You’ll also save money while you’re doing it. There are a huge number of ways that you can use the food you might otherwise throw away. For example, carrot tops can be turned into pesto sauce, rubbery veggies can become roasted vegetable pickles, and crackers can be made out of the scraps and shavings of veggies.
If there are scraps you truly can’t use, it’s a good idea to start composting. Compost heaps aren’t just for your backyard — there are a number of different kitchen compost systems that you can invest in. There’s even a compost system to remove pet waste! That’s an innovative form of garbage disposal that most people didn’t know could exist.
If your backyard can’t support a compost heap, or you don’t have a backyard, you can look through your community information to find out whether a community compost scheme exists. Composted food scraps cease to be waste. Instead, they feed and nurture the soil.
For more information about environmentally-friendly waste disposal, call Red Bins at 416-733-2467 or contact us here.