It’s been years — probably decades, actually — since I lined any trash can but the kitchen trash in plastic. The office, bedroom, and bathroom trash cans get dry items such as paper, empty toilet paper rolls, and used tissues (not many as I use cloth tissues a little over 50% of the time).
But that kitchen trash, usually emptied 2-3 times per week, does produce quite a lot of plastic — about 130 bags each year. As California moves forward on its plastic bag ban, a lot of people are probably wondering what they’ll line their trash cans with once their “free” grocery bags are gone. Here are my tips:
1. Start composting. A composting pail in the kitchen will take care of most of the wet trash that is the reason we think we need plastic liners to begin with. I’ve lined my composting pail with sheets from the newspaper we get delivered daily even though we never subscribed (annoying because it comes wrapped in plastic and because we never asked for it). I do get the occasional La opinión from the corner stand, and that will provide plenty of liners once I successfully get the unwanted newspaper to stop being delivered. If you want to get fancy, there are yourube videos on newspaper trash-can liner origami. So far, stuffing the newspaper in seems just fine.
2. Use any tall trash cans for recycling and don’t use a liner. Some things can’t be composted easily (we’re starting without meats, for example), so the actual garbage can should be small and dumped often. Our tallest can, which used to be our garbage, is now our recycling can. Everything put in there is clean and dry, so there’s no need for a liner at all.
3. Line the small garbage can with newspaper. We’re hoping not to create much in the way of garbage. Meat scraps and fats can be stored in a container in the refrigerator until it’s time to take the trash to the curb (a great use for those plastic containers I don’t want to use anymore to reheat food), keeping the garbage can fairly free from moisture and unpleasant smells as well as easy to dump and clean.
If I run into any trouble, I’ll post, but so far this seems so simple I don’t know why I didn’t think of ditching the trash bags before.
Here’s my tally of changes:
Already had been doing for a while:
1. Bring own bags shopping (not just for groceries)
2. Bring own produce bags (was inconsistent here; doing better)
4. Pack lunch with real silverware and all reusable containers (even cloth, velcro-closing “zip-lock” containers for snacks and cloth napkins)
5. Bring own water bottle everywhere
6. Use fountain and other refillable pens and highlighters exclusively
6.2 (I forgot and don’t want to renumber). Use the Keeper instead of tampons or menstrual pads. My purse was stolen in Spain about ten years ago, and it was the day before my period was supposed to start, so the Keeper was in my purse. I was forced to use tampons and pads for the first time in over ten years — it was the most uncomfortable (not to mention wasteful) thing ever. I can’t recommend the Keeper enough.
6.4. Use washable rags instead of paper towels for 95% of cleaning jobs. I still use paper towels for animal-waste related messes.
After reading Garbology:
7. Switch from bottled to bar shampoo and ACV rinse for conditioner (plus a drop or two of argon oil on frizzy days)
8. Switch from bottled to bar soap
9. Switch from plastic to glass containers for foods to be reheated at work
10. Use metal containers for foods not to be reheated
11. Switch to homemade dog treats
12. Buy milk in glass bottles
13. Make yogurt at home from milk in glass bottles
14. Make own lip balm (and use old altoids tin as container)
15. Make waxed cloth and use in lieu of saran/plastic wrap
16. Make own gluten-free snacks (e.g., cookies) instead of purchasing packaged variety
17. Buy most foods in bulk
18. Carry travel mug everywhere for coffee or fountain drinks
19. Refuse straws at restaurants; bring own glass straw when eating out
20. Replace canned shaving cream with shaving puck/soap and brush
21. Replace lint rollers (anecessity in my house full of dogs) with this crazy, reusable contraption that actually works better and is easier on clothes
22. Replace plastic loofah with sisal wash cloth
23. Replace vinyl checkbook covers with handmade, plastic-free cloth cover (I found mine on etsy) that doubles as an excellent wallet
24. Start using reusable cloth tissues outside the home (I actually got two checkbook covers — the second one was more of a purse design, and I’m using that to carry my cloth tissues about)
25. Avoid plastic-wrapped fruits and vegetables
27. Switch to sunblock packaged in metal (reusable!) tin. Refill with homemade sunblock when it runs out.
28. Make own laundry detergent made from ingredients wrapped in paper or boxed in cardboard
29. Start campaign to eliminate plastic, disposable sporks from public schools (in very early stage)
30. Contact favorite companies re: packaging waste (so far just a few. I’d like to build up to one per week)