Tomorrow is a pretty significant date here in Australia. One of Australia's biggest grocery stores, Woolworths, will be banning single-use lightweight plastic bags in all of their stores. In even better news, a total ban of these plastic bags will commence as of 1st July for Western Australia, Victoria and Queensland, which will join all other Australian states (except New South Wales) in forbidding retailers from providing or selling these single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags.
Global understanding and awareness of the negative environmental impacts from plastic bags is increasing. An estimated 1 million sea birds and 100,000 mammals die every year as a result of plastic pollution, with single-use lightweight bags being the most significant contributor. The most disheartening aspect is that because plastic bags take so long to break down, one single plastic bag can kill many animals. Once an animal that has consumed the bag has died and decomposed, the bag re-enters the environment for the next animal to consume. With approximately 1 million bags being used every minute across the globe (and locally in Australia in the state of Queensland alone, approximately 900 million single-use lightweight plastic bags are used) there is a lot of plastic pollution entering our environment.
While the majority of us have celebrated this decision, I feel there is a gap in knowledge on how live plastic bag free, specifically bin bag free. One gripe that I often hear is that users of the light-weight plastic bags do the “right thing” by reusing the bags to line their bins. Well, yes reusing the bags is better than completely disposing of it; however the existence of these bags still pose a risk to land and aquatic animals. Running straight to your cleaning isle at your local supermarket to stock up on plastic bin liners isn’t going help the environment. You are swapping one plastic bag with another.
So, I have a few options for your bins.
Not using a bin liner may sound a little gross at first, but in reality it just requires a little extra effort on your behalf. Bins without plastic bin bags can save a household over a hundred plastic bags each year. Just give it a wash in-between uses to avoid smells and it becoming a germy pit!
If you have liquids, wet foods or particular smelly waste, the next option may be better.
Erin Rhoads, the zero waste blogger and author of Waste Not has a simple trick to make a bin liner for small bins.
It involves being a little crafty and creative (let’s dig out our origami skills!) to make a small paper basket to be placed inside your regular bin to soak up wet waste. Do you remember making paper envelopes in year four to pass around secret notes in class? Well, the paper bin liner kind of looks like a big version of a paper envelop.
Erin’s book will be available 1st July (I’ve pre-ordered my copy).
There are plenty of cloth bags available at the moment. These cloth bags would be best used for paper waste and dry waste bins only. These reusable bags can also be easily washed in-between uses. Check out a range of cloth bags available for purchase here.
Got any other great ideas on how to live bin liner plastic free? I would love to hear your thoughts below.