Matt\’s Cuppa

My take on tea, technology, and our environment

150 Fewer Plastic Trash Bags

Posted by telecommatt on November 17, 2007

Not much action in the blogosphere today. My feeds were pretty quiet all day, so I was doing some cleaning and started thinking about how many trash bags I use. I wonder if there’s a way to make reusable trash bags. Although, the heavy duty plastic ones are almost reusable themselves if your garbage isn’t too messy. Still, I think about every plastic trash bag I toss into my can, and that’s a lot of plastic! There’s got to be a way around using all that plastic.

That led me to thinking about work. I work in an office building. Every employee in my organization has a trash can and each trash can has a plastic bag in it. Each day, someone comes around and pulls out the old plastic bag and inserts a new one. This happens whether the trash can is full (which it usually isn’t) or not. That’s a huge amount of nearly empty plastic bags going into some landfill.

I was tempted to start thinking badly about the cleaning company and its employees for their wasteful practices, but they are not really to blame. If they didn’t do this, office workers would be up in arms over the janitors who weren’t doing their jobs right.

No, this is a case where change has to begin with us. I can’t point fingers at this cleaning company for doing what they’ve become expected to do. Instead, I’ve got to change my own expectations. What if I just didn’t put my trash can out when it didn’t really need to be emptied? I bet I could get away with my trash can being emptied twice a week. That’s saving three plastic bags a week for fifty weeks of the year. Just by doing this, I can save one hundred and fifty plastic bags from being tossed in a landfill!

I still haven’t figured out if there’s a reusable solution for my kitchen trash can, but if I get just one of my coworkers to change the way their office trash can is emptied, together we’ve used three hundred fewer plastic bags per year. And if we convert the, I don’t know, hundred and fifty people in our office? That is A LOT of plastic that doesn’t have to needlessly pollute our environment.

So, how often do you empty your trash at work?

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