Bag It, If You Must (Your Dungarees Will Thank You)

Posted on November 4, 2010 by Mickey

I know, I know- you’re tired of talking about plastic bags. You’ve already switched to reusable bags when you go shopping and you’re still finding creative ways to use up all those petroleum-based polymer abominations that have been piling up under the kitchen sink over the past twenty years. We’re SO over plastic bags, right?

Not so fast. Maybe you’re not like me at all and you’ve managed to banish plastics in every way from your home, but one place in my household we can’t seem to get over the plastic bag is in the garbage can. I’ve tried going bagless, schlepping the whole trash bin down to the dumpster and trying not to get all that funky garbage juice on my dungarees when I hoist it over the top. That works, except sometimes you do get garbage juice on your dungarees and the banana peels stuck to the inside of the can be pretty stubborn.

Fortunately, if you’re the sort of person who really appreciates spotless dungarees and also doesn’t want to add yet another plastic bag to the landfill, there’s the BioBag. Certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute under some specification designated by a bunch of letters and numbers (that’s how you know it’s for real), BioBags are made in the USA from non-GMO starch, vegetable oil and “the world’s first patented compostable polymer.” I’ll just have to trust them on that last one, I suppose. Point is, these bags are designed to compost rapidly. In other words, these bags are not meant to be bags for very long, an idea upheld by two of the suggestions on the box: “Do not put hot liquids inside bag” and “For best results, use BioBags within 6 months of purchase.”

Hmm. Those warnings gave me a bit of pause. Would my 13-gallon bag hold up to 13 gallons of onion peels and tea bags? Or when I go to pull it out of the can, will the bottom of the bag, already winning the race toward biodegradation, simply drop all the trash back in the can (or worse, all over the floor?) Allaying my fears not at all, the transparent green bags are also incredibly thin. Hefty, these are not.

But they work. There isn’t a fancy drawstring like our old bags and I don’t think you’d want to put tree branches or used syringes or anything too pokey in them, but they held. I stuffed the trashcan past full as I always do, gently pulled the bag out by the corners and… nothing. It held just fine. It’s just a trash bag doing what a trash bag does, holding my trash for the trip down to the dumpster, and hopefully not much longer past that.

Now I need to try to cut out some more of the plastic trash that ends up inside my BioBags. By the way: What are dungarees, and why did I decide to describe myself as wearing them?

I purchased my BioBags from


  1. Liar. You don’t own any Dungarees.

    It would be great if grocery stores started using mini-BioBags to bag groceries instead of plastic ones. That way, the people who forget or refuse to use reusable bags will be forced into being green. Mwahahaaa.

    November 4th, 2010 at 10:58 am
    Comment by Courtney
  2. A lot of times I use chip bags, bread bags or the dog food bags to collect garbage, and then fold the top over and throw them in the big garbage can outside. It means a few more trips to the garbage can, but it’s no biggie, really.

    November 4th, 2010 at 5:59 pm
    Comment by Allie
  3. I always think its funny when the supermarkets go on and on about saving plastic bags – yet package up two bell peppers in a cardboard tray with cellophane wrapped around it – or a steak which is on a cardboard tray, with what looks like a small soak-up cloth and then cellophane.. Stopping plastic bags at the checkout is the least they could do!

    November 5th, 2010 at 2:18 am
    Comment by Chris
  4. Probably the worst plastic out there..besides BPA the ‘biodegradable’ plastic.
    do some research and find out what happens when u mix rivers/lakes/pools/oceans with those bags.
    i dare u to put one in you fish pond. point is, it will break down and b4 your filter can capture all those itty bitty bit pieces, your fish will eat it, starve and die. take a deeper look. the ocean doesnt have a handy dandy filter-only wildlife.
    look up

    November 6th, 2010 at 12:49 am
    Comment by anastacia
  5. ps. composting all your tea bags and onion whatevers and you wont need any liner.

    November 6th, 2010 at 12:50 am
    Comment by anastacia
  6. The problem with using mini bio bags at the grocery store is they still end up in the landfill, where they don’t biograde because there is so much garbage that after a short while, it is buried then can’t get any air which is necessary for the whole process. They have found 60-70 year old newspaper which were in perfect readable condition because of this. They should require everyone to pay for reusable bags. People will get tired of paying and remember to bring their bags in. Nothing speaks to people louder than hitting them in their wallets.

    November 8th, 2010 at 10:34 pm
    Comment by Angela
  7. Anastacia: Thank you for your comments and I assure you that I do, despite general laziness in other facets of my life, do my research. I am not a chemical engineer and so cannot independently verify the claims of the manufacturer, but they specifically mentioned supposedly “biodegradable” plastics that do little more than disintegrate. I believe this is the type of bag you are referring to. BioBags, on the other hand, are supposed to be truly, 100% biodegradable. Again, I have to take their word for it.

    Also, I can think of no circumstance in which I would put said bag in a river/lake/pool/ocean. And I really have no idea why I would throw my garbage bags in a fish pond. I wouldn’t guess that litterers care much about the longevity of that which they toss out of the car window and they probably don’t read this website.

    p.s. I knew somebody would bring up composting. I live in an apartment and cannot think of what I would do with a bucket of moldering food scraps, at least until I join a gardening collective or buy a house with a yard (I know: excuses, excuses.)

    Angela: This is a good point. If even newsprint doesn’t break down in a landfill, we probably shouldn’t be worried about anything else that does or doesn’t. I guess the best thing about these bags is that they are another step toward all consumer products being engineered in a more environmentally friendly way.

    November 9th, 2010 at 11:12 am
    Comment by mickey

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If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


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So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.

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