What to do about the bag ban – don’t let them get your goat

The biggest problem I’ve had with the new bag ban is, how will I wrap my trash now? If you don’t wrap/bag your trash, you will find it sprinkled all along the street in front of your house, and maybe right on down the street. Those little bits of wrapper and snot rag go airborne when the truck throttles your bin.  I’ve seen stuff like that fly off of trucks on the freeway. 

For years I’ve lined my little undersink trash can with plastic shopping bags – perfect size. They don’t make a trash bag that size, they’re all twice the size of my little can. They also perfume garbage bags now – I can’t stand that, triggers my asthma. So, here I am, trying to figure out how to bag my trash. As if I don’t have enough things to do!

Paper is not practical – for one thing, it’s made from a tree. For another, if it gets wet, it falls apart.  I’m looking for something that will keep my little bits of trash together long enough to make it to the landfill. 

I had anticipated this problem from the beginning. When I mentioned it at a Sustainability Task Force meeting way back when, Ann Schwab suggested I line my can with newspaper. She doesn’t listen. She also doesn’t live a working class lifestyle. I’m guessing she rarely eats at home, or really generates any trash at home. I’m guessing most of her trash goes into a can emptied by janitors down at the college. Sure, I can see her tossing the can from her diet Pepsi into a recycling bin, you know, as long as that bin is right at her fingertips. I’m guessing she’s never been to the college recycling center, or picked up compost bins from the food services. Having to take that kind of crap from a useless person like her is insulting.  

So, she adds a sheet of newspaper to her airborne snot rags and used tampons? That’s great Ann, just great. Talking to Ann Schwab is like talking to one of those inflatable lawn Santas.

I like to complain, but I adapt.  There are many “single use plastic bags” out there.  The ban only covers grocery stores, and will later phase in pharmacies and liquor  stores. It specifically does not include department  stores or restaurants/fast food outlets.

It seems to me, it also specifically defined the bag to be banned, specifying handles, and maybe size. Walmart is using bigger plastic bags, I wonder if they are just going to give you more for your 10 cents. I’ll probably use the one they gave me on Christmas Eve to carry groceries until it falls apart. I will use it at Raleys and Safeway. I will also use the oversize Sears bags I’ve collected, they’re very nice. 

I don’t use these bags for trash until they are only fit for trash – I wash these bags in the sink in warmish water, I shake them out, and then I stand them upside down, like a tent, over my dish drainer. After 20 years of using “re-usable” bags, I’d say the old style film plastic bags are a lot more convenient to keep clean and re-use than cloth sacks, which have to go in the laundry. Nylon sacks get disgusting looking, pilly, snagged,  and stretched out. You can’t keep pet hair from sticking to them, they’re like a magnet. The plastic bags they are selling at most stores now for about 99 cents are not made well enough to last any longer than the old bags, they are bulky and hard to manage, especially on a bike, and the handles are untrustworthy. They are made well enough to be in the landfill until archaeologists dig them out and declare our generation a complete loss.

As for lining my trash can, I started hoarding bags months ago. I have a drawer in my kitchen where I keep them, all sorted and organized by type of bag and anticipated use. I keep bags I consider too dirty for any other use but garbage in a little bin under my sink. Besides the “single use” bags, there are all kinds of food bags – chip bags, coffee bags, rice bags, the bags that came on our New Years’ bed pillows.  The coffee and rice bags, although small, are perfect for garbage – they are re-sealable.  We stuff in our bits and pieces of junk – and stinky stuff like meat paper –  and when the bag is full, it gets sealed up and tossed in the Recology can. 

And then we realized, the little southern California town in which my son attends college will not be suffering this ban until July. The boy brought me half his stash of Von’s bags, and says he’ll bring me plenty more when he comes home again in May.  God bless a child who wants to make his mother happy.  He thinks it’s stupid too, and guess what – he wants to be a lawyer!





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