Our 3-Month-Old Bin Bag

By Lucia · 3 minute read

This was me in October 2018. I was so happy that our usually-full bin bag, changed each week, was only this full. We then decided to only put the bin out when we had filled the bag completely to the brim and eventually started keeping track of how often we changed it.

Fast-forward two years: our latest bin bag was in service from 27th October 2020 to 8th February 2021. That’s 15 weeks without having to remember bin night!

Search for Zero Waste online and you’ll come across people like Bea Johnson, Lauren Singer and Samuel McMullen whose non-recyclable waste for the entire year fits into a small jar. It’s easy to feel helpless when faced with the stories of these low-waste superstars, but rather than give into the initial feelings of inadequacy and defeat let’s re-frame it and take inspiration from them to start making a difference ourselves.

Here are my top 5 tips for reducing the contents of your bin:

  1. What’s in your bin? Keeping track of what you’re throwing away is always the best place to start. Could you switch any waste items for recyclable or reusable alternatives next time you shop, or are there even some things you buy out of habit that you could actually live without? As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
  2. Food waste: This is the main reason bins start to smell. If your council offers food waste collection, make the most of it! And if you have a garden, you could even look into composting. TOP TIP: If you’re saving your food waste for a weekly collection, store it in the freezer to avoid nasty smells in your kitchen.
  3. Wash your waste: just as you wash your recycling. This will also help stop it smelling, and as an added bonus, the extra interaction you have with your rubbish may encourage you to be more mindful about what you’re trashing.
  4. Research local recycling: you may be sending recyclables to landfill that could still have long lives ahead of them.
  5. Brim your bin: If your bin bag doesn’t smell and you’ve still got room, squish the contents down and save sending unnecessary bags to landfill (this’ll save you some pennies too!).

If you’re wondering why we don’t just get a smaller bin, our rental property came with its own 48L whopper so we may as well stick with it for now! We use charity collection bags instead of buying bin liners, since they would otherwise still be lying unused in my parents’ porch. You may even be allowed by your council to put loose rubbish into your refuse bins: if you’ve been washing your waste and composting food scraps, it won’t mess up the inside of your wheelie bin.

If you had never gone running before but decided you wanted to run a marathon, I don’t think you’d go out tomorrow with a 42k route mapped out. So don’t aim for perfection straight away: assess where you are now and set some achievable goals based on your current situation.

Why not pick one item to eliminate per week or month?

Or can you stretch your bin bag’s life to two weeks instead of one?

Every little helps.

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