The Homemade Way to Take Out the Trash

No matter how hard I try to avoid plastic bags, they always seem to creep into my home.  Considering that nearly 1 trillion crappy plastic bags are produced worldwide every year, its no surprise that avoiding them is tough, even for an eco-freak like me who keeps a stash of re-useable bags in the car and stroller.  Fortunately, I put every single sneaky plastic bag to good use.

In our garbage can.

Well, not in the garbage can, but lining the garbage can.  I haven’t bought dedicated garbage bags in years.   Why bother when there is a steady and reliable free supply?  Sure, the plastic bags from the grocery store work well, but so do plastic bags from the dry cleaner…the plastic bag our Sunday paper arrives in…the wrapping used when Amazon.com ships us something…heck, if you buy diapers use the plastic wrapping to line your garbage can!

We went to a resort last weekend, and the plastic laundry bag I used to transport our wet swimsuits home served double duty as a garbage bag.  Sometimes re-using is better than recycling!

My mom once encouraged me to splurge on a new, larger garbage can.  She couldn’t understand how a little 12″ bin could sufficiently handle the waste produced by my active family of four.  Because so much of what we consume is homemade, we create very little waste – my son wears cloth diapers, vegetable scraps are turned into homemade broth and we return milk bottles to our favorite green grocery store.  If we had a larger garbage can, it would take more than a week to fill it up – resulting in quite a stinky (and heavy!) trip to our building’s trash chute!

Plus, I have a “if you build it, it will come” mentality when it comes to garbage.  If we had a larger garbage can, we’d probably consume a little more liberally.  Keeping a small bin constantly reminds us to keep our consumption in check.

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Written by Maureen

More posts by: Maureen

7 Comments for this entry

  1. lynne says:

    I have thousands of the “free” bags- it’s super annoying but so useful. We use them for dirty diapers and it goes straight out to the trash. We need to buy back our cloth diaper since living on the road it was hard to cloth diaper- I need to try your prefolds, I just need a class in it first. Those are the cheapest ever. Can you believe it’s 4 daughters for us? CRAZY!

    • Maureen Smithe says:

      Four daughters! So much fun! I am the oldest of four girls – we are all one year a part from each other. Our little brother finally came along when I was almost 7 :)

  2. Amanda Z says:

    We do have dedicated trash bags in the kitchen, but find plenty of uses for the plastic ones. I use them in the bathroom trash can, and for cleaning out kitty’s box. I’ll fill them full of things to donate to Goodwill, or use them to pack my lunch for work (I’ve never bothered to buy a lunch box). I even take them to the farmer’s market with me so I don’t come home with more. We also keep one in the car when we’re on road trips so we don’t trash the back seat!

  3. Jacob says:

    I actually do the same thing: I often have run out though! Having said that, I think I might try some biodegradable trash bags (if I can find them in small enough size- I also use the small garbage can).

  4. Jessica says:

    I recently found out that 8 layers of plastic bag can be fused together by ironing on a low setting between 2 sheets of wax paper. The result is a very thin, strong, wrinkly “fabric” which can be used to make all sorts of things. I made a waterproof caddy for my handkerchief so my purse doesn’t get contaminated after use. I love it!

  5. Liz says:

    You are certainly frugal and are to be commended for that! However, I wanted to point out that using shopping bags for trash means that they will sit around in the landfill for hundreds of years. As they do, the chemicals in them, including BPA, phthalates and others, leach out into our groundwater. I am still trying to find a reusable, waterproof and washable garbage can liner. When I do, I’ll let you know!

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