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I was recently asked, “What type of trash bag was the most eco friendly trash bag to use? I was so excited to find out the answer ’cause this is a topic I have definitely thought about – I’m serious! Everybody thinks about their trash bags right? 🙂
Seriously, this was a great opportunity for me to focus and search for a more eco friendly solution to a normal trash bag.
My First Answer
What came to mind for me immediately was to use a compostable trash bag – it’s meant to break down and so would break down in the landfill – unlike a plastic bag.
Wow! That was pretty easy! Switch my regular trash bag out for a compostable one and I’m done!
I realized it wasn’t gonna be that easy after I started doing some research! :-0
In my research I was reminded about was how a landfill works, which is important to consider.
A landfill is basically a large hole in the ground with a liner of clay and plastic. Trash is tightly packed into the landfill leaving little oxygen – which is essential to breaking down biodegradable and compostable materials.
In other words, a landfill is meant to store the garbage not break it down. So even a compostable trash bag isn’t going to do well in a landfill given there is so little oxygen. It’s going to sit there for a while too, like everything else.
[For more info on landfills, check out my post, “Where Does My Trash Go?”]
My Second Answer
Soooo, the answer to, “What’s the most eco friendly trash bag?” is to not send any trash to the landfill! Instead, reuse recycle or compost everything!
Whoa – hold on! That is NOT going happen for us. We’re a family of five and we have stuff. As much as I’d love for us to be zero waste I just know it’s not possible.
Although we have very little trash because we recycle AND compost we aren’t going to get to one mason jar of trash a year. Unfortunately, we do send some trash to the landfill.
So now what do we do? What’s the most eco friendly way to throw away the trash that’s going to the landfill?
Here’s what I’ve come up with but I don’t want you to get too excited. It’s not ideal. It isn’t super green, it’s just greenish and sometimes that’s the best it gets.
I decided to search for trash bags that were made with recycled plastic instead of new plastic.
I looked to recycled plastic as a “greenish” option since plastic is created using fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource which means supplies won’t last forever. FYI – Fossil fuels are also what is burned to create electricity.
Using a plastic bag from recycled plastic means that no fossil fuels or at least fewer fossil fuels will be used to create the bag, which helps to conserve this resource. And, conserving resources is a good thing!
[Read more about fossil fuels and why it’s important to conserve them in my post, “Get the Simple Scoop on Your Home Electricity“]
I found three different trash bags to try to see how they work and hold up. I’ll let you know in a future post how each of them works out.
As a side note, we compost all of our food waste so I’m not concerned with how these trash bags hold up to that kind of trash. However, I have used compostable bags in the past that were a bit thin and would easily tear. And, you do not want your trash bag breaking!
Here are the three that I found to try out:
Seventh Generation – made from 55% recycled plastic
HippoSak – made from plant-based (sugar cane) materials
Hefty – made from 65% recycled plastic
Be sure to click on the links above for more info on each trash bag (and to purchase!)
And the Winner Is!
I hope this, while not perfect, helps you to be more aware and make some green (‘ish) choices!
What greenish choices have you made? Let me know – I love new ideas!
Thank you also for your research and explanations to my very same questions. So, in other words, these green compostable companies are wasting their time, resources and money? : /
My other comment seemed to have disappeared but I mentioned how I found these from 100% recycled plastic.
Eco Renew Tall Kitchen Trash Bags with Twist Ties
They have great reviews online.
It seems that way to me, right? I may reach out to a company that sells compostable trash bags for more info on what happens to them in a landfill. Stay tuned… 🙂
Hi ! I just found these when doing some searching of my own. While I’d also prefer using biodegradable trash bags, they are just so pricey. These are at least within my budget and they are 100% from recycled plastics.
Eco Renew Tall Kitchen Trash Bags with Twist Ties
I saw that they have great reviews and I’m about to try them out.
These look great! Thanks for sharing! I’m going to get a box and try them out. Will be sure to add them to my list of alternatives!!
All of these bags have handles. Please be aware that the handles can trap and injure, even kill, wildlife. After I tie off my bags I literally cut the handle loop. At least I know that my bags won’t harm wildlife. Please do the same.
I hadn’t thought about that so thanks for bringing it up. Guess it’s like six pack rings!
Thank you for this helpful video!! I appreciate your time and feedback!!!
I loved this video!!! Thank you so much Pam! My partner and I will def be trying out the hippo sak bags!!! Do you have an Instagram account too?
Hi Kara! Thanks for your message! I’m so glad you found the video helpful! I love the hippo sak bags!! And, yes, I am on Instragram at @greenilyco! See you there!!
We have been using these biodegradable dog poop bags, do these look OK for the environment? https://greenpaperproducts.com/biodegradable-dog-poop-bags-cbd864.aspx
Hi Mike! Those look great! No plastic! Are they strong enough? Guess it depends on how big your dog is! :-). I do know that animal poop can’t be composted so while the bag (and poop) will have to go into the regular trash, at least you are skipping the plastic with the bags!! I say even if it’s not perfect, it’s a great step in the right direction!! 💚
Hi Pam, thanks for the article and video! You have some great content on here. Do the Hippo bags break down in landfill? I know they have no plastic which is good, but want to make sure there aren’t any other negative tradeoffs with the material.
Hi Dan. Thanks for your comment. I don’t believe the Hippo Sak bags will break down in the landfill which is why I think they are just a greenish solution to landfill waste – but one that I think is the greenest choice when it comes to sending trash to the landfill in the first place – which isn’t green, to begin with. In my opinion, they are a great choice if you have to send stuff to the landfill bc at least they are re-using plastic and not using newly created plastic to make them. I think the greenest choice is to not send anything to the landfill but I realize that may not be possible – at least it isn’t for our family of 5. I do think a compostable garbage bag would have a better chance of breaking down in a landfill, however a landfill isn’t really an ideal place to compost stuff, it’s better at just storing garbage. Unfortunately, my experience at trying compostable trash bags hasn’t gone well. They just weren’t that sturdy – but I’ll keep looking for one!! 🙂
Hi! I’m deaf so I can’t understand the video. Is it possible for you to just tell me which one was your favorite?
Yes!! I’m so sorry! I love and am still loving the Hippo Sak plant-based kitchen trash bags AND the Hippo Sak trash bags made from recycled ocean plastic. Both are super durable!! I hope you like them!!
Or no trash bag at all! I took the plunge a few years back and went bagless. I dump the trash can into our community dumpster when needed, and just wash out the trash can periodically. I have to be more mindful about throwing away things that might stick to the sides, but otherwise this was a super easy change to cut down on plastic bag waste.
Unfortunately, our county requires that we put landfill trash into a bag for pick up – and I think drop off too. Being able to go bagless for trash is awesome!! Way to go!! 🙂
If you’re composting, do you need bags at all? I’ve toyed with the idea of not buying something that I’ll just throw away but I’m not sure how successful that would be. It may come down to whether your garbage company would accept trash not in a bag.
Hi and thanks for your comment! I do compost a bit in my backyard and do not use a bag to collect scraps. I do also use a compost pick up service that provides me with a compostable bag to put compostable items in. Where I live we have to put (landfill) trash in a bag and as much as I try to minimize our landfill trash we inevitably always end up with some! 🙁
I think a compostable bag may be just as green as the recycled bags when the compostable bag is sent to the landfill. It may br slightly greener depending on what resources are used to make each type of bag.
Hi and thanks for your comment! I agree that what the bag is made from makes a HUGE difference in how eco-friendly it is. I think the difference for me has been in how much less durable many compostable bags can be. They aren’t typically super sturdy and tend the tear easily. I try to go with the most eco-friendly option balanced with what actually works although I wish we weren’t sending any trash to the landfill at all! :-0
Great post, thank you for sharing! I just wanted to let you know that when I tried to share this on Facebook it was blocked and I got the following message:
“Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.”
Hi Kayla. Thanks so much for letting me know – and for trying to share! I’ll see if I can figure it out.
I love this post! It’s all about baby steps in greening your life, and sometimes improving your impact on the environment, rather than eliminating it, is what you can do at the present time. It’s really difficult to cut out that plastic trash bag. I think every little bit helps, especially little bits of awareness! Awesome!
Thanks, Natalie!! I agree 1000% – it’s all about baby steps! Maybe one day I won’t need a garbage bag at all but for now I’m going to do the best I can!
We have a huge trash bin in wich we are obliged to throw our trash and it’s collected and weighed weekly and once a year we pay for it… now I’m making my own cloth bags to fit in our trashbins at home so we can just empty those into the bigger one when full and washed when needed….
Wow!! That is a GREAT idea – and SO eco-friendly! I’d never even considered a reusable trash bag!!How often are you finding you have to wash them? Thanks for sharing!