1 Million Plastic Bags Are Used Every Minute Globally!
Only 1 in 200 Bags are recycled in the world!
One of the convenient and (sadly) most polluting products for Plastic are single use Plastic Bags. Along with the bags that you get from the grocery stores or other places, garbage bags make a big part of the mess. And these are the ones where people justify the use and are satisfied using a product that claims to be “Biodegradable” or “Compostable” or “Eco-Friendly”.
The Harsh Reality
A garbage bag is used exactly once and then trashed. While you may be hopeful these get recycled, the facts are 99.5% of them don’t! And that is a global figure. So in all likelihood, your garbage bag is going to land up in a landfill – and not even a banana peel breaks down in a landfill, leave alone a garbage bag. There is no sunlight, no air, no presence of bacteria that help with biodegradation and uncontrolled pressure and temperature in a landfill – all these conditions ensure everything in a landfill stays forever!
What You Can Do
In a scenario where most of your trash is ending up just getting stacked on top of each other in a landfill, what can you do to avoid adding to the mess?
The solution is rather simple but requires a bit of your effort initially:
- Use smaller bins and segregate your waste into wet and dry waste at home – even if your garbage collector is not segregating, at least you can avoid the garbage bag!
- Wet Waste Bin: No liners are the best option and simply wash the bin after waste has been removed. If you must still use a liner, use newspaper as a lining. You will still need to wash the bin but it becomes easier to clean the bin with a newspaper lining. Only 1 sheet of the newspaper is enough.
- Dry Waste Bin: There is no liquid in this (if you are segregating properly, that should be the case) and so, you do not require to line this bin with anything. Wash it once every few days or when you feel the need to.
While washing the bin (or getting your maid to wash it) might seem like a monumental effort of behemoth proportions, it is much easier than it sounds. Yes it might sound disgusting or smelly or too much of a hassle – but compare that to the fact that 30 seconds of your daily effort can prevent 700 garbage bags from reaching landfills!
Why Not Use an “Eco-Friendly” Garbage Bag
Well, simply because, there is no such thing. There are 3 categories of garbage bags currently available in the market (unless you are buying newspaper based garbage bags – in which case, stop spending so much and simply use a newspaper sheet!):
- Regular Plastic Garbage Bags: These are the notorious bags that take up to 500 years to break down (into microplastics and smaller pieces of plastic which then make their way into our food chain). These are one of the leading causes of plastic pollution!
- Biodegradable and/or Compostable Garbage Bags: Truth is, most of these bags are either made out of CPLA or similar material which breaks down only in industrial composts and last I checked, the practical chances of these bags getting to an industrial compost in India are quite close to 0. In any other situation – be it your home compost, plastic recycling facilities or landfills – these bags will not break down. In fact in plastic recycling they only lead to ruining the batch in which they get recycled. So they sound like a “too good to be true” solution and they are just that.
- Oxobiodegradable Bags: These bags are made with a plastic additive that leads to plastic breaking down faster in the presence of sunlight (UV rays) and/or sea water. While it sounds good to break plastic down faster, since it only leads to break down into microplastics at a much faster rate, this technology has been banned in a few countries and by 150 organisations globally. Moreover, think about the amount of sunlight or sea water present in a landfill and you will have your answer for the scenario of these bags too.
Stop letting excuses of “but the maid won’t clean”, “but it is a lot of effort”, “but I don’t see how this will save the environment” hold you back.
Remember that while marketeers are making a quick buck by selling “eco-friendly” garbage bags to you, the same bags are going to stay for the next 500 years and that is a steep price to pay – both monetarily and environmentally.
So be an eco-warrior and say no to Garbage Bags today!