This article aims to set the record straight and answer the question: What are the best trash bags for the environment?
As you may have realized, finding a good, environmentally friendly trash bag is a real struggle. There is so much conflicting advice that making an informed choice is really difficult.
According to my thorough research: this is the most earth-friendly trash bag you can find on amazon.
But finding a good eco-friendly trash bag shouldn’t be though as there is a range of manufacturers who make great products in this adit hard to choose Unfortunately are not being recognized for their good work.
What are the best trash bags for the environment?
Let’s turn the question around, what do we want from the best trash bags for the environment?
We want it to be:
- Made in a sustainable way
- Strong enough for regular use
- Reasonably priced
- Have no lasting impact on the world
That means it will have to be compostable and it will need to be plant-based.
UNNI bags are an example of one that fits all the criteria and is a good choice with great customer feedback.
They are made from plant starch which is a pretty common material and a good choice to look for.
These bags are medium strength which is fine for most consumers.
But if you are looking for a stronger one then these extra thick bags are a good alternative.
On the packaging for both, the manufacturers explain where they can be composted, how long they take to breakdown and what standards they are made to.
This is always something to look out for and is a good indicator of quality. These two products represent two of the best trash bags for the environment.
4 Features to look for when buying “Eco-friendly” trash bags
1. “Biodegradable” is a very vague term and one to be skeptical of if you see it on any packaging. It often just means that bag will degrade eventually, this can be two days or two centuries and so it’s not a label that is useful.
2. “Certified Compostable” is the kind label you want to see. That means it has been independently tested and will compost, albeit under set conditions.
3. Ideally, you also want to see a BPI label which means “Biodegradable Plastics Institute”. This also means the bag has been further tested to be genuinely biodegradable in a reasonable amount of time, typically around 26 weeks.
4. “Compostable at home” some products will also have a compostable at home certification which means they can compost almost anywhere and are suitable for backyard composting. This is important as often supposedly “compostable” can only be composted in commercial composting systems.
Even if “Compostable at Home” bags go to landfills, where there is little air or heat, they may still be able to compost which unusual as very few products of any kind can breakdown in landfill.
This brings us to one of the big problems with compostable bags.
Problem with compostable bags
The vast majority only break down in specific circumstances so if you dispose of one of these bags incorrectly then it will still remain in the environment for a long period of time.
As green consumers, we have an obligation to buy responsibly. But also to take care of the product and make sure it is disposed of correctly. This means reading the label on the bag and making sure to put it in the correct bin.
Other types of eco environment-friendly bags
Cassava bags have gained a lot of attention recently as an alternative to starch bags and are often billed as “the best trash bags for the environment”
- Whilst they are a good alternative in some ways they can create a lot of issues too. The main issue is that cassava is a staple for about 10% of the world population. And the part of the plant used to make bags is the same part used for food.
so if we create a system that demands cassava we then will start to deprive people of food as it is more economical to sell it abroad.
- It is an easy plant to grow but one that is very prone to disease, whose yields decline year on year and a plant that has become so inbred it will require genetic modification to make it viable. Whilst the end product is very good, what came before has a social and carbon footprint that is too high to sustain.
- If we are to switch to cassava on a large scale, then we need to adjust our farming system to suit the demand rather than take what is currently available. If we carry on as we are we will take away a vital food source for millions of people.
The perfect eco-friendly bag doesn’t exist
As I said in the beginning, these compostable bags are a good alternative to “conventional” bags and are the best trash bags for the environment at the moment.
They are still not perfect and there have been instances of compostable products still being around several years later.
This, however, is guaranteed if we don’t use compostable ones so we should try at the very least. If we increase the demand then technology and manufacturing should improve in time too.
All the same, nothing comes close to reducing demand for bags in the first place.
Placing trash lose in bins is one option but a far better one is to reduce the trash.
Stop buying plastic-wrapped products, trinkets, and unnecessary items which all have a huge carbon footprint behind them.
Buying better products does help but mass consumerism is the problem behind this issue and the one that needs to be addressed in the end.
Ultimately the best trash bags for the environment are the ones we never have to make.