Kitchen Garbage Bags

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garbagebasketI’ve had more than one person tell me that they don’t use reusable cloth bags for their groceries because they like to receive the ‘free’ plastic grocery bags to line their kitchen garbage can. They say it saves them having to purchase plastic garbage bags.

I used to do the same thing, and when I started using reusable cloth bags regularly, I had a supply of plastic grocery bags for my garbage that lasted me for almost a year.

At first when I realized I was running out of the bags I was perplexed. How was I going to take out my garbage? Those plastic grocery bags were perfect for the kitchen garbage because they are just the right size, and you can tie the handles neatly together to make a tidy little bundle that gets thrown into the bigger garbage bin that the big noisy truck conveniently takes away for me every week.

Out of sight … out of … hmmmm

So I set about rethinking this age old habit. And let me tell you it was a bit of a challenge. Finding a new way to deal with the garbage was easy. Establishing a new habit took a bit more work.

I started by examining what I wasn’t throwing away … anything reusable, recyclable, or returnable.

Then I examined what I was throwing away: all those little bits of plastic food wrapping that are virtually impossible to avoid; the plastic strip security thingys that wrap around bottle and jar lids; the odd miscellaneous wrapper; meat wrappers and trays; food gone bad that is non-compostable and too big to flush; used tissue and paper towels (these would be composted if I had a bigger composting system); other ubiquitous bits and pieces of single use stuff.

Those things add up to about the equivalent of one plastic grocery bag full every week. Not much in the grand scheme of things, but still I am just one person on a planet of almost 7 billion who are also throwing away a bag or two each week.

Most of what I am throwing out is dry, so why do I need the plastic bag to hold it all? The bag does make it more convenient, but its really not necessary. So I bravely tried my first week with no plastic garbage bag liner.

The first hurdle came after I had finished washing the dishes. I drained the sink and automatically scooped the yucky stuff out of the sink drain and almost put it into the unlined garbage basket. I stopped myself in time, thinking what a mess that would have made.

Then I stood there with the guck in my hand wondering what to do now? I decided to throw it into the composter. Hopefully a little environmentally safe dish soap won’t harm the worms.

Phew … that’s one habit confronted.

The next challenge came after I purchased chicken breasts sold on a Styrofoam tray, with a plastic absorbent pad. (I know … that was breaking my own rule about packaging, and one of these days I’m going to confront the meat manager at my local supermarket.) But … back to my garbage story … I knew that if the raw chicken juice/blood soaked packaging sat unwrapped under my sink for more than a few hours the smell would be impossible to live with. So as soon as I had the chicken safely sizzling away on the bbq, I ran the container straight outside to the big giant garbage bin.

Inconvenient? Yes. But then change always is.

I pressed on.

I was now in the habit of running out to the bin and upturning the wicker basket every two or three days, usually as part of my cleaning up the dishes chore.

But there inevitably came the day when I was in a hurry and I was confronted with rethinking the “taking out the garbage on my way to work” habit. What was I to do with the empty wicker basket? I didn’t have time to run it back up stairs. I was walking to work and didn’t want to carry the basket with me all over town. So out of desperation I put the empty basket in my car and retrieved it when I got home. That worked perfectly and it has become a new habit.

Its been over a month since I stopped lining my kitchen garbage basket with plastic and so far it has been working very well.

Perhaps one day the kitchen garbage can itself will be ancient history.

Jeananne LaingComment