Paper or plastic

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

Don't cover me with plastic garbage bags please! (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

I’ve always been opposed to garbage bags. Not opposed to garbage per se, just opposed to buying special bags to put it in. Buying bags whose express purpose is to be thrown away. It just seems wasteful and not eco-friendly. Bags made out of petroleum which go into a landfill and sit there for hundreds of years, just because of garbage. It seems wrong.

So for years I resisted buying official garbage bags. My goal was to use bags that were going to be thrown away anyway. I used the paper bags from the grocery store for garbage. Yes, I know tree huggers everywhere are groaning at this, but they are bags with a limited lifespan. You can reuse them once or twice, but sooner or later they get either recycled or thrown out. Then grocery stores switched to plastic bags. Those bags did not make good wastebasket bags. They were too small for the kitchen wastebasket, tended to tear easily and were flimsy. But they could not be recycled in my area at the time and would end up being thrown away eventually, so  I tried to make them work.  I ended up with a collection of partly filled little garbage bags each garbage day. Then, to top it off, the garbage collector man started to complain. Yes, the man whose job it was to pick up the garbage felt my garbage did not meet his standards. He wanted the garbage to be placed in standard garbage can size bags, so he could run up, pick up a bag from each can and run back to the truck. I pay extra for can service instead of curb service, so I didn’t think it necessary to gift wrap the garbage in special bags just for him. That would put me back to buying special bags just to be thrown away. I conceded by lining the garbage cans with used dry cleaning bags and putting all my little grocery store bags of garbage inside of those. It wasn’t gift wrapped, but at least he stopped complaining for a while.

Then one day, my family and I realized our grocery store garbage bag solution was not working. We had switched to the reuseable grocery store bags, so only accumulated about four  grocery store bags a month. This was not enough to keep up with our garbage, which is not that much considering our robust recycling efforts. So, I succumbed. I bought Glad handle-tie kitchen garbage bags. They worked great. The garbage man is happy. My family is happy because the bags don’t break or fall apart, hold plenty of garbage and are easy to carry out. But I’m not completely happy, because now I’m spending money on something whose only purpose is — to be thrown away.

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11 thoughts on “Paper or plastic

  1. We’re still using the little plastic bags from the grocery store. Everyone laughs at our tiny pail in the kitchen. On a bright note (sort of), my husband is an obsessive recycler. Better read that newspaper quickly…it won’t be available later. 🙂

    • We’ve talked before about how our husbands are a lot a like. Sometimes the morning paper is gone by evening – and I never read it. We even recycle on vacation – we come home with our newspapers, toilet paper rolls and empty cans if there was no recycling where we stayed.

  2. I really like your blog. I mentioned it in my last post. Check it out, or don’t. Over here it’s been plastic bags in shops for as long as I can remember, so paper would be a welcome change. -cyn

    • Thanks so much! I did take a peek at your blog and thoroughly enjoyed that post.

      The latest trend here is reusable cloth bags that you buy from the store and bring them back each time you shop. Of course they are labeled with the name and logo of the store so wherever you carry it you give free advertising to that store. But it does save the environment from discarded paper and plastic, so all in all a good thing.

  3. We have the exact same problem! I use the reusable bags when I grocery shop and do use the plastics to pick up after the dog in the yard. But we also refuse to buy plastic garbage bags, so my husband does the grocery shopping once every couple of weeks and sweet talks the checker into giving him a stack of spare paper bags. I’m just enough of a tree hugger to be against doing this myself, but not enough of one to stop him. Its not an ideal solution, that’s for sure. There is an invention in this problem for some clever person!

    • Sounds like your husband thinks the situation is fixed. I feel guilty every time I throw away a bag that I bought to be thrown away, but have not found another workable solution. Fortunately for us we recycle so much that most of the time we’re only using 2 large wastebasket bags a week for a family of 3. So I think the recycling is the key, at least until someone invents biodegradable garbage bags.

  4. Really good point. We buy garbage bags, but we’re obsessive-compulsive recyclers (the little card oval from the top of the kleenex box even goes in the bin).

    • We do the cards from the top of the Kleenex box too. Junk mail, paper towel rolls, magazines, newspapers (goes without saying), glass, plastic, aluminum. I take broken electronics (TVs, computers, anything with digital functions) to the toxic waste disposal for recycling, as well as batteries. Our trash for garbage day has gone down considerably over the years, which is partly why I’ve been able to rationalize the plastic garbage bags.

  5. Pingback: Blog blue – one day we all will « Work – live – travel – a life in diversity

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