Bio Bags are they really green?

bio bags

Reducing our impact on the environment is on most peoples radar these days and  biodegradable garbage bags may seem like a good choice when it comes to the waste we create daily. That was what I thought too until two years ago.  I was volunteering at an Eco-fair downtown when I began talking with a manufacturer of this exact product that I got the real scope on Bio bags and their lifespan in the land fill.

Like many environmentally aware people, I pride myself on being up on the latest ways to be good to the planet.  After making a commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle, we are still faced with the green garbage bag at the end of the week that needs to be collected and transported to the landfill.

With many of the grocery chains now charging for plastic bags or eliminating them all together I needed to look for another source of garbage bags, I hated the idea of buying a product, namely plastic garbage bags, to throw away.  I  justified it to myself by the fact that I would go “green” and pick  biodegradable garbage bags for my kitchen and home.

The  outlandish price tag, usually two to three times that of the common  brands, was just the price one has to pay to be responsible.  How wrong I was!  The gentleman I met was promoting biodegradable compost bags that were specifically designed for backyard composters for vegetable matter. The bags do compost quite well when under the proper conditions.

It was these “proper conditions” that I was not aware of  until he explained it to me.  When I asked why he did not sell Bio “garbage” bags as well,  I learned that the bags that are destined for the dump will not degrade even if the bag is made of this super new green technology.

In a landfill, the bags would not be exposed to the two key elements needed for the process to work; oxygen and sunlight! The garbage bags that we put out each week to be swept away by a couple of strapping guys in a stinky truck will not be set out to rot and return to the earth in any matter that is close to natural. The garbage will be compacted and covered with a layer of dirt within hours of reaching it’s final destination, to stay there for hundreds or thousands of years!

It’s just one example of the green machine taking advantage of the everyday consumer. So if these bags are not going to breakdown any faster then the ones made of petroleum products, should we just throw our hand up in surrender and return to our old ways and buy the cheap bags once more?

There is another option, garbage bags made of recycled plastic.  This reused product may sit around for a long time too, but it reuses what would have ended up as garbage. Next time you are out grocery shopping look in the cleaning isle and you’ll find these recycled plastic bags are becoming more common.

Why all plastic bags are not made of recycled materials is a question for another day, and for the politicians perhaps? Until the laws change and environmental protection is a higher priority for the government we must  be proactive in our resolve to make the best choices we can with the information we have.

Each choice you make in favour of recycled products, reducing your consumption of disposable items and thinking about the final destination of your purchases will add up to a greener planet and that is what we all want and need.

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URBNgreen is committed to education and environmental stewardship. Our objective is share information about what people are doing locally and around the world to create a sustainable future.
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