Which eco friendly trash bags should I buy?
Are eco friendly garbage bags as strong as regular plastic bags? Are they more expensive? Where is the best place to buy earth friendly trash bags? Read on to learn the pros and cons, and where to get the best deals.
It takes regular plastic trash bags more than one thousand years to degrade in a landfill, and less than three percent of plastic bags are recycled every year. This three percent accounts for around 1.3 billion pounds of annual post-consumer plastic in the US alone. These startling statistics emphasize the importance of finding alternatives to standard plastic waste bags.
Finding “eco-friendly” trash bags is not difficult at many retailers today. Many stores offer recycled or partially recycled bags, paper and biodegradable options, and some even offer compostable trash bags made from organic materials. There are also trash bag options which are made from more stretchy and thin plastic that promise to reduce waste over the long term.
With so many different options, how do we really know that our earth friendly trash bags are helping the environment instead of just costing us more money? The key is in researching the materials used in making the trash bags, and understanding their environmental implications.
What options are there for earth friendly trash bags?
There are numerous alternatives to standard plastic trash bags. From a price perspective, the cost of recycled, biodegradable or compostable trash bags is often comparable to many standard designs. From an environmental perspective, the difference in the use of standard bags versus these alternatives is immeasurable.
What’s on the market
If You Care Certified Compostable Kitchen Trash Bags: These bags are made from non-GMO potato starch and compostable polymers. There is no plastic in these trash bags, and they are fully compostable in both commercial and municipal compost facilities.
If You Care Recycled Trash Bags: Made from 97% post consumer recycled polyethylene, only 2% color and 1% virgin polyethylene, these bags are very earth friendly. Using 2.2 lbs of recycle polyethylene instead of new plastic can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 Kg, and crude oil use by as much as 2 liters.
Natural Value: Made from recycled materials, these bags degrade in 12 to 24 months, and are free of PVC and plasticizer.
Glad 100% Compostable Tall Kitchen Bags: One of the most popular brands of trash bag, Glad has created compostable trash bags that meet ASTM D6400 compost standards, and are certified by the BPI.
BioBag Tall Kitchen Bags: Made from plants, vegetable oils and compostable polymers, these bags degrade in 10-45 days.
Evolution Recycle Trash Bags: Made with 70% certified PCR (recycled) material.
Plant Based Hippo Sak: Compostable bags made from sugar cane. These have convenient handles and are guaranteed stronger than other plant based compostables. Puncture and leak proof!
Full Circle Recycling Tall Kitchen Bags: These bags break down in 1-5 years, and you can also use them in your plastics recycle bin — meaning, you can put your recyclable plastics into one of these bags and throw them in your recycle bin.
Seventh Generation Kitchen Trash Bags: 3-ply, extra strong bags made from 55% recycled plastic.
And, there are a lot of cheaper, generic brand recycled plastic kitchen trash bags as well as compostable trash bags coming on the market all the time, offering great deals, especially for bulk purchases.
The difference between corn and potato starch
Both corn and potato starch can be used to make compostable trash bags. While both are suitable alternatives to plastic waste, there are some differences that affect their degree of environmental friendliness. For example, potato starch requires less water and irrigation than corn starch, meaning that rainwater is enough. Additionally, corn grown to produce starch requires about 40 percent more land than potatoes grown to produce starch.
Ultimately, trash bags made from both corn and potato starch compost well and are significantly more earth friendly than plastic options. Unlike plastics, bags made from these materials are not as damaging to the environment and animal life, as they degrade much quicker than plastic and don’t release harmful toxins into soil and the water supply as they degrade.
Pros to using earth friendly trash bags
There are many pros to using earth friendly trash bags in place of standard options. Some of these pros include:
Creating plastic means using fossil fuels, which deplete petroleum resources. Using biodegradable and compostable trash bags helps to turn attention to alternative resources like corn and renewable sources.
Plastic emits greenhouse gasses, which is a direct contributor to global warming. When plastic use is limited, so are greenhouse gas emissions, which is better for the environment, humanity and wildlife.
It is believed that millions of sea creatures die every year due to plastic bags and garbage disposed of in our oceans and waterways. Using products that are either not made from plastic, or that have additives to break down plastic can drastically aid the effort in reducing the number of wildlife deaths.
Cons to using earth friendly trash bags
There are a few issues across the brand board with earth friendly trash bags that could be considered negatives to using them. These downsides include:
Availability. Many of the most earth friendly options can only be purchased online, which can dissuade some consumers from purchasing them over the options available locally. In areas where earth friendly trash bags cannot be purchased locally, consumers without internet access may also be restricted from easy ordering.
Cost. While many earth friendly trash bag options are comparable to standard options, many others are not. Compostable and biodegradable bags, including those made with corn or potato starch, often are more expensive than recycled or standard options. Adding the higher price for some brands plus the cost of shipping, and many consumers may choose to shop locally for products that are readily available, even if their environmental impact is greater.
Durability is another common concern with biodegradable trash bags. Due to thinner plastic and “flimsy” materials, many consumers may find that their trash bags are more likely to break or leak, and no one wants to deal with trash leaks.
As eco friendly trash bags become more mainstream, their quality, durability and affordability improve. Buying in bulk, whether online or at the store, is always going to give you the best value. So whether it’s recycled materials or fully compostable trash bags — stock up to get the best prices, and keep an eye out for continued innovation and quality improvements.
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