After ban of plastic bags, what about the garbage bags?

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Just as I am gradually feeling a sense of guilt every time I  throw a plastic bag away, a policy finally became effective in our county to ban the single use plastic bags in all grocery stores including Wal-Mart and Target. This came as a slight relief to the progressively more serious issue of the plastic trash pollution in our environment (it takes 500-1000 years for a plastic bag to decompose). It might not actually make a dent in solving this issue, but it's better than doing nothing.

After this ban came a household problem faced by a lot of families, if not all, that make use of the single use plastic bags for garbage bags: where will we get all the plastic bags for the garbage cans each week ? We have about 12 small garbage cans in the house. Even when we had a bountiful source for the garbage bags before the ban, I would consolidate the garbage in all 12 cans into 2 or maximum 3 bags and dispose them. That's 2-3 plastic bags a week. I started using a somewhat bigger plastic shopping bag as the master bag for collecting all garbage in the house and reuse all garbage bags in the cans by keeping them in the can indefinitely and also reuse the master bag. This is because most of the trash in the trash cans other than the one in the kitchen contain mainly dry trash. You can pour out the trash and the bag is tolerably clean to stay. Still I cannot reuse the one bag in the kitchen normally containing the meat or fish packages which get stinky in an hour.  The wet trash doesn't even include the food scrap itself, for which our city collects every week and we do compost for some in our garden. That means each week I am still disposing at least one plastic bag.  Now that we don't accumulate any plastic bags from grocery shopping, eventually my stock of plastic bags will run out and post a problem about the future source. I know we can always buy plastic bags designed for use as garbage bags, but that defeats the purpose of encouraging reusable bags and I will call that stupid.

So what to do? It's a trivial problem but it's a problem none the less. Every problem has a solution as long as you look for it. Even though the big single use plastic bags are banned, there are still plenty of plastic bags we cannot reuse or recycle and have to dispose every day, from either the packaging of grocery products themselves to the smaller plastic bags grocery stores still allow to use for vegetables and fruits. We can always use one of these un-reusable and un-recyclable plastic bags as the trash bags for the trash items that will make the bag un-reusable. My main problem is in the one medium trash can used in the kitchen where I disposed of the meat and seafood product packaging. Therefore I designed a two-bag system in the can (see top picture below). I use a regular plastic bag for the dry trash so the bag will be reused again after pouring out the trash into master trash bag on garbage day. I take one of the bags from the pile of plastic bags I have to dispose of anyway for the stinky trash bag which I will dispose all the "wet trash". On garbage day, I just dispose the whole "wet trash" into the master trash bag. This way, every week I don't consume any regular single use plastic bag. I am sure that occasionally I will need to replace a bag or two in the 12 trash cans, but my stock of plastic bags will suffice this need.

Thus solved one small problem.

We still have the big problem about all the plastic bags that we are stuffing our oceans with and the animals killed by ingesting the disintegrated plastic pieces. I wish there are ways we can more effectively separate them from the rest of the garbage and somehow recycle or re-use them to convert them into more useful products. I guess before we find that solution, the only thing we can do is use less and discard less. Let's try our best.

Two-bag system, one for dry trash (left) and one for wet trash (right, I use the costco frozen salmon bag)
Two-bag system, one for dry trash (left) and one for wet trash (right, I use the costco frozen salmon bag)
The reuseable master bag for collecting all garbage. Yap, that's my not so splendid shoe.
The reuseable master bag for collecting all garbage. Yap, that's my not so splendid shoe.
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