Monday, February 16, 2009


One area where I haven't given up plastic is for taking out the trash. Right now we use shopping bags to line the kitchen can, for wet non-compostable waste. We don't use liner bags in the bedrooms or bathroom unless one of us is sick. We empty those cans into the kitchen bag to take it out. We recycle and compost, so there isn't a lot of trash.

Eventually our supply of bags may run out. I can probably get more from friends or Freecycle after that. Occasionally one of us will bring home a paper bag from a store; I generally use those to take out loose paper recycling.

We could just put the waste in our bin and empty it into the larger bin outside, foregoing any plastic bag, but I have a couple reasons why we don't. One, we eat fish and meat, which can't be put in the compost. Sometimes there is waste from that, and having it in the bin with no bag would mean cleaning and sanitizing it frequently- requiring extra water and (mostly) labor. I claim laziness here.

The other reason is we live in an apartment building. I worry that I would get reprimanded by neighbors or the landlord for not using a bag. The outside cans fill up fast- I can place a bag of trash on top, but can only empty loose trash into them when they aren't full. Around my neighborhood there is often trash in the gutters and on the sidewalk that got loose from spending time on the curb, and the sight makes me wary of putting out trash that isn't secured in a bag.

Is there an option I am missing? Is it possible to avoid plastic trash bags as an apartment dweller?


The Green Cat said...

Hi Juli. As an apartment dweller, I dump my trash cans directly into the building's bins but I live in a smaller building than you do so I don't have the problem of those bins being full.

You might want to think about keeping a smaller bag just for that "wet" trash. You could reuse non-recyclable bags (like chip bags or the liners from cereal boxes) if you have any. Depending on how much wet trash you have, you could save it in your freezer and then only toss it when it's full. This way, at least, you are getting full use out of that plastic bag you are tossing out!

Juli said...

Hmm. The freezer space is already claimed by compost. I'm with you on using smaller bags for wet trash- we may have to when we run out of the larger ones. I'm not purchasing items in bags, but my roommate does and she is really good about saving them for re-use.

I also admit to a good deal of fear-- not wanting to stick out too much with my plastic reduction pledge. I should just try putting loose trash in the outside cans and see what happens- probably nothing!

There's also my roommate's feelings to consider though, and I know she prefers a liner on at least the kitchen can.

The Green Cat said...

I agree: you do need to consider how your roommate feels. I do keep bags in both my kitchen and bathroom trashcans but I carry the entire can out to the big garbage cans and dump them out (retaining the liner in my little trash can for reuse). I only dump out the liner bag if its really gross and can't be rinsed for recycling.

But even if you have to toss those bags, at least you are doing more than a lot of folks. One of my neighbors uses those flexible garbage bags (the ones that are built to stretch so they can be overstuffed). He (or she, I don't know who it is) fills these bags only half-way, ties them tightly and tosses them in the garbage. This same person also uses these bags for recyclables. Makes me crazy!