A simple post about how to avoid lining your bins with plastic bags has gone viral in the wake of the big supermarkets’ decision to phase out single-use plastic bags.
In 2013, Perth-based sustainable living advisor and waste management expert Lindsay Miles wrote a blog called “How to … Line your Rubbish Bin without a Plastic Bag,” showing people how to use old newspapers instead.
“A common argument – or even justification – for using plastic bags is, ‘oh but I do recycle my bags, I use them to line my rubbish bin'”, Lindsay wrote on her blog, Treading My Own Path.
“Thing is, that’s not recycling. It’s barely even re-using. It’s still sending to landfill, just with other rubbish inside.”
Instead, she proposed that old newspapers could be used just as easily to line bins with.
“When the bin is nearly full you simply roll over the tops to make a parcel and dump in your outdoor rubbish bin,” she instructs.
“The great thing is that newspaper is usually made from recycled paper so has already had a previous life (or several lives) before you send it off to landfill.”
But then people starting asking her: well, don’t we have to chop down trees to use the paper? What about liquid waste making the newspaper all soggy?
“People were saying to me, ‘well, I don’t get the newspaper’, or ‘why are you chopping down trees?’,” Lindsay said.
“So I wrote a new post, just a couple of weeks ago, which comes up with more solutions.”
Here are some of Lindsay’s tips:
- Don’t use a liner at all.
- Line your bin with other repurposed materials like cardboard or old paper bags.
- Line your bin with certified compostable bags.
- Line your bin with recycled plastic bin liners.
- Wrap up your food scraps in paper and put them in the freezer until bin day.
- Start up a compost bin system.
- Liquid waste shouldn’t be going in the bin – anything watery should be drained beforehand.
- Tin foil is NOT an eco-friendly alternative.
Although Lindsay said she no longer shopped at supermarket chains, preferring to buy produce local farmer’s markets, she applauded Coles and Woolworths’ decision to phase out single use plastic bags.
“It’s a big shift for them and I think supermarkets are really looking into how they can reduce their packaging,” she said.
“These things can’t happen overnight; they have to come in gradually. People would go nuts if they got rid of all their plastic at once.”
But it’s also about behavioural change in the consumer, she said.
“I think there is more of a realisation these days that we have the power to make effective changes,” she said.
“We need people getting on board to actually remember to bring our grocery bags to the supermarket.
“Have a few lying around – one at home, one in the car, one at work.
“The reason the bag ban came about was because so many community groups and schools were writing to local politicians saying, ‘we’ve got to do something about this’.
“The momentum came from the ground up. Now we all have to play a part and step up to the challenge.”