Saturday, 3 September 2011

What to use as bin liners - Plastic Bag Ban

by Eilleen

Hello everyone!

As some of you may know, here at Australia's capital, we are soon going to have a plastic shopping bag ban. From 1 November 2011, shops will no longer be able to give you a plastic shopping bag for the goods you buy from them.

This has raised quite a discussion in my little community - specifically what are we to use as bin liners? While many people I know use re-usable shopping bags, we all (me included) do the occasional shop without them so that we can take home the plastic bags and use them as bin liners.

Many other people are also poo-poohing the plastic bag ban in the first place, with many suggesting that this is yet another political headline-grabbing act rather than real action for the environment. Some have even pointed out that in places like Adelaide where they have banned the plastic bag, bin liner sales have gone up. A quick search of the internet reveals a news article citing that bin liner sales in Adelaide are double the national average.

Regardless of our political leaders' motives for banning the plastic bag, I have to say I support this ban. Plastic bags ARE bad for the environment. Many of our plastic bags are not disposed of properly and they end up clogging our waterways and killing a lot of our wildlife. Most plastic shopping bags take up to a thousand years to properly decompose.

For those who want to continue using plastic shopping bags as bin liners, then I think it is right that they should pay for that. (I think it would also be good if a % of profits made on bin liners can go towards environmental causes and research). When you make people pay for polluting then it makes them more conscious of it...and hopefully there will be flow-on effects in terms of reducing polluting habits.

But I am getting off topic. I guess I wanted to share what I have done and will be doing when the plastic bag ban comes in.

Firstly, the big one is to reduce the amount of waste that is going into landfill. Since embracing simple living, I no longer have a lot of waste to begin with. Currently, my waste consists of one plastic shopping bag a fortnight. This is how I reduced my waste:
  • Compost - all my vegetable scraps are placed in my compost bin (note you may want to check out my indoor newspaper compost bin post).
  • I recycle all hard plastics, tins and glass bottles.
  • I try to buy in bulk and not to buy goods with lots of packaging.
  • I serve smaller portions at meal times so that there is no meal waste that contain lots of meat (and therefore can't go in the compost bin). My children and I can always come back for seconds and thirds if we are still hungry
All of the above has meant, that pretty much the only thing that goes in my one plastic shopping bag bin liner are small amounts of meat scraps and bones as well as other soft plastic packaging (eg. packaging that my cheese comes in).

Now as I said, I do admit to going shopping once every few months or so so that I can get the plastic shopping bag for use as the bin liner. I am now down to only 5 plastic shopping bags...this means that I can continue to use those bags for the next 10 weeks (given my current waste output). After that I will no longer use plastic shopping bags for my bin. And I am hoping to completely avoid having to buy plastic bin liners. So here's my plan:

1. Soft packaging (eg. bag for the frozen peas etc) will be used for wet meat scraps and other wet items that can not be composted.
2. Dry meat scraps (eg bones) will be wrapped in newspaper and placed directly in the bin.

It doesn't look like a comprehensive plan....but then again, I tend to like simple, easy to remember plans. :)

I hope you are having a good day.


The bevy of black swans living in my local lake