We use fabric shopping bags. Some are string ones, others are calico. We rarely get plastic shopping bags anymore.
Whenever I talk about ditching the shopping bag, I am always asked with some scepticism “What do you put your garbage in then?” My answer: when it comes to garbage, it’s time to think outside the (dirt) box.
You would probably agree with me if I said that it was silly to not use shopping bags for the garbage but go and buy bin liners. We don’t do that either.
We just don’t have a kitchen bin at all.
Yep, no bin. Haven’t had one for a couple of years now.
When you think about what most rubbish consists of (once you take out everything recyclable and compostable) it’s packaging. Specifically, we use plastic garbage bags in order to throw out empty plastic bags. Crazy stuff.
So I try to avoid doing the bag inside a bag thing as much as possible. It’s not always achievable or realistic but we’ve certainly reduced our consumption of plastic quite a bit.
Instead of using plastic shopping bags as garbage bags we use an empty bread bag as a garbage bin, or an empty rice bag or an empty frozen pea bag or the empty (paper) mushroom bag and these sit near the sink and go to the outside bin after a day or two as they fill up. If we run out of bags, we use the empty milk carton or even something as small as the empty cream carton and as these are cardboard, they break down quicker (and you can close the ‘lid’ on the rubbish.
Of course, a better alternative would be not to buy anything in non-recyclable or non-biodegradable plastic bags, but we haven’t gotten that far yet (I haven’t found a block of cheese wrapped in anything but plastic).
If you don’t buy garbagein the first place, then you don’t need a bin in which to throw it out. Once you reduce the amount of packaging, recycle every thing that is recyclable, you’d be surprised just how little garbage a household throws away.
When it comes to kitchen scraps and composting, we don’t actually have a compost bin (yet), so we do throw out our kitchen scraps. At least they break down quickly.
One thing that I do with the vegetable scraps though, is give them a second life before they hit the garbage. I collect them in a bag (yes plastic, but I reuse the same one over and over) in the freezer and make vegetable stock out of them. This stock is practically free (you’re using ingredients that would have otherwise been thrown out anyway) and much healthier and better tasting than the salty store bought stuff.
Of course, reducing the plastic we consume not only reduces pollution at the waste end of a product’s life cycle, it also reduces pollution at the extraction and manufacturing end. The less plastic that is consumed, the less that needs to be made (it’s made from oil). Also as a result, manufacturing uses the less carbon and less chemicals, which results in less air, water and ground pollution from industrial bi-products and waste.
Using less plastic a small thing that we can all do that makes a big difference. And there are always practical alternatives when we think outside the box.
What do you do to reduce your plastic?