Tip #2: Ban the bag!

For the sake of our plastic-choked oceans, more and more communities around the world are starting to ban single-use plastics, particularly including the humble plastic shopping bag.  A Canadian ban on single-use plastics within the next year or two was even promised during the 2019 federal election!  And one of the most common uses many of us still have for them, apart from hauling our goodies home from the store, is lining our garbage cans at home.  So what will we do if they eventually get much harder to come by than they are right now?  Here are some ideas we can try out and get used to right away, so that the transition won’t come as any big shock later on!

1) BE SELECTIVE: Just as Reduce is the first and most important of the three R’s, the most effective thing we can do garbage-wise is to be picky about what we purchase, making sure to prefer things that use as little packaging as possible.  Can you buy products without any packaging at all, e.g. bulk veggies instead of bagged?  Can you avoid things made with unnecessary plastic, e.g. plastic-coated paperclips?  Can you buy it in a simple cardboard box instead of a crinkly plastic wrapper which may or may not be recyclable?  The less we have to throw out in the first place, the less we have to worry about what we’re throwing it out IN.

2) SEPARATE WET AND DRY: For those of us who are able, putting food waste into a compost pile rather than sealing it in a dark and nearly-airtight container can hugely reduce the frequency of trips to the outside garbage bin, because a garbage-can full of plastic bags and wrappers will never start to stink, and it compresses really well too!  Of course, meat waste or bones will still need to be thrown away, but if you can find a small pail to keep that sort of thing separate from the main garbage can, you can still get the benefit of garbage that never smells.  If you have the space for it, you can even dessicate scraps or bones with very little meat left on them by leaving them on an open-air tray overnight to dry out before disposing of them.  Drying them out completely halts the decomposition process and means they WON’T EVER STINK (at least until they get wet again)!

Anyway, when it comes time to empty the wet stuff, you could pour it back in with the dry just before taking it out to the bin, or perhaps you could bundle it up in some old newspapers or flyers for ease of collection.  And make sure you write or call your city councillors and let City Hall know that WE WANT ORGANIC WASTE PICKUP!  They’re already working on it right now, but the more they hear from people demanding it, the faster it’ll happen.  You can find all their contact info right here: https://www.kamloops.ca/city-hall/city-government/city-council/council-contact-information-and-bios

3) REPURPOSE: Take a moment and think about how much of the garbage in that shopping bag liner is actually OTHER BAGS!  Why not repurpose some of those bags into garbage bags themselves once they’re emptied?  Club-sized chip bags or other big junk-food bags, pet food bags, frozen food bags or heavy-duty plastic wrappers, small boxes, any other large-form packaging that can’t be recycled… all of these things work great to stash your smaller loose items of consumer-waste in, especially if you’re already following step 2 and separating out the wet and dry garbage.

Give these tips a try and see how long you can go without needing a plastic bag for anything at all!

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