Friday, October 8, 2010

Buy biodegradable kitchen bags (Day 68)

We don't use plastic garbage bags as a general rule.  We use a big black one for the outdoor garbage bin, and a smaller white one to collect kitchen garbage. 

I was in Shopper's Drug Mart the other day, looking for kitchen garbage bags, and noticed that they sell biodegradable plastic bags.  The size isn't quite the right one (the compostable ones are a bit smaller than I need) but I bought some to try out.  They are also very expensive for the amount you get. 

Today I was in Dollarama looking for something, and noticed they carry biodegradable bags, too - the same amount for $1.50.  Much more reasonable.

If the Shopper's ones work out, I'm going to try the Dollarama ones next.  Readers - do you have any experience with the biodegradable plastic bags?


  1. There was an article about biodegradable and compostable bags in the Vancouver Sun this summer:

    California is considering legislation about truth in labelling for these products:

    If I understand it correctly, if the garbage is going into the landfill, biodegradable bags will not usually break down, or will do so very slowly.

    Compostable bags are different from biodegradable ones, but have to be in the right conditions to break down into compost.

    We buy bags made from the highest percentage of recycled plastic that we can find and we use as few as possible. Most of our kitchen waste goes into the compost.

    "Addicted to Plastic" is a very good documentary. We found it at our public library.

  2. Biodegradable plastic bags are the penultimate in greenwashing: It doesn't biodegrade unless exposed to air and UV rays, so the garbage bags do not actually break down when buried in a landfill. It also means that, when buried, they will release even more methane than a regular plastic bag when they eventually degrade, because of the additives that supposedly makes them 'biodegradable'.
    Also, oxo-bio plastic cannot be recycled -despite what is printed on the bags themselves- so many recycling plants are now systematically throwing out ALL plastic bags (regular shopping bags are recyclable) for fear of contaminating their stock with oxo-bio plastic.
    I'm sorry, Eco Mama, but biodegradable plastic bags are a big no-no. Also, the compostable bags should only be used for compostables, not regular garbage. They also release methane in landfills, though not if composted as they were designed to be. Ecologists actually recommend, that until a better solution comes up, regular plastic bags are the lesser of evils. Even better, would be actually buying garbage bags, since spending money on a disposable item will make most a little more conscious of the amount of waste they put out.
    A good resource is Karen Cannard's blog The Rubbish Diet
    Karen spent a year trimming down the size of her family's waste output with much success, and wrote all about it.

  3. Thanks Susan and DJP. I will look into the documentary and the blog. I know that these bags won't degrade unless exposed to sun and air, but I am foolishly hoping that if my black garbage bag gets broken open in the dumping process that some kind of exposure will allow a certain amount of decomposition to happen.

    We aren't allowed to use compostable bags in our green-bin project, due to concerns that people might use any plastic bag and contaminate the compost.

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