How to…Line your Rubbish Bin without a Plastic Bag

Australians use nearly 4 billion plastic bags per year, using each for only a few minutes. When you think that plastic is made from non-renewable fossil fuels, it seems pretty crazy to be using such a valuable resource to make something that’s only going to be used for such a short amount of time, and then thrown away.

A common argument – or even justification – for using these plastic bags is, oh but I do recycle my bags, I use them to line my rubbish bin. Thing is, that’s not recycling. It’s barely even re-using.

It’s still sending to landfill, just with other rubbish inside.

I have to confess, before I signed up to Plastic Free July I used to take the odd plastic bag from the shops when I needed to line my rubbish bin. I certainly wasn’t going to pay for virgin plastic to line my bin in the form of fancy bin liners. And what is the point in buying compostable corn starch liners when you’re sending them (and their contents) to landfill, where they won’t break down? Landfill sites essentially bury the waste and prevent exposure to air, moisture and light – and also the microbes that can break them down.

And then someone said to me, why don’t you line your rubbish bin with old newspaper? Such a simple and obvious solution! I really don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.

How to Line a Rubbish Bin Without a Plastic Bag

All you need is a few sheets of old newspaper. I use three sets of two sheets, and sometimes I’ll fold some additional ones to put in the base. It takes about a minute.

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When the bin is nearly full you simply roll over the tops to make a parcel and dump in your outdoor rubbish bin. The great thing is that newspaper is usually made from recycled paper so has already had a previous life (or several lives) before you send it off to landfill.

What are you waiting for?!

How to…Line your Rubbish Bin without a Plastic Bag
121 replies
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  1. Katrina
    Katrina says:

    Who buys newspapers. Everything is online. I haven’t had a newspaper for yrs I don’t even get junk mail. Aren’t we again still single use of trees as well.

    • Lindsay (Treading My Own Path)
      Lindsay (Treading My Own Path) says:

      Hi Katrina! Here in Perth many people get the community newspaper. In addition many cafes, doctor’s surgeries, schools, libraries and other public places get the newspaper. I am not suggesting for a moment that anyone buys a brand new newspaper solely to place it in the bin, there are plenty of places where second-hand ones can be found. In principle, I am against single-use anything, of course! – that is what zero waste living is about. But I also recognise that everyone starts somewhere – when I started, I switched from plastic bags to newspaper, and people often ask me how it is done. Down the track I learned to compost and set up a worm farm, and I haven’t had a bin at all anywhere in my home for more than 3 years. But it takes time to get systems in place! I know when I started I found this useful, and I hope that others might also.

  2. Ken Rubbia
    Ken Rubbia says:

    You really thought it necessary to show people how to fold a couple of sheets of newspaper? Are people nowadays so absoluutely clueless that you would even consider it necessary to show your “l33t skillz”?

    • mei lu
      mei lu says:

      Wow what happened to if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. Leave your negative comments at home.

      • Lindsay (Treading My Own Path)
        Lindsay (Treading My Own Path) says:

        I missed this comment originally Ken, but yes, I did think it was necessary. It wasn’t obvious to me before I was shown, and I thought other people might benefit. You’ll probably be surprised to hear that this is my most shared blog post ever on my website, currently at around 86,000 shares. So I guess my feeling that other people might appreciate the tip was correct after all! :)

      • smithy
        smithy says:

        that pithy statement was created by people who get hurt by words and who don’t have something more intelligent to offer. it’s also a pious, passive-aggressive way of censoring speech.

      • Marilyn
        Marilyn says:

        Yes, I love that idea. Say something nice! I love this website with some fresh ideas to add to what I am already doing. Thank you!!

  3. Rochelle
    Rochelle says:

    Thanks. My husband and I have been lining our pail with newspaper for a few months in the same manner as you suggest and it really works. Our pail is larger so the paper doesn’t go up both sides but it works in much the same way. Makes us feel we are doing better without plastic. Also using mesh grocery bags and totes.

  4. Kathy Wyman
    Kathy Wyman says:

    But the town only accepts ‘garbage’ in their special blue plastic bags that we buy from them. So it still end up being put into plastic….what are my options?

  5. Nan Patea
    Nan Patea says:

    I do think that is a bit ott! all those bins to demonstrate how to line a bin! anyway, rather than LINING your bins, (if you are able to access newspaper at all) why not wrap your food scraps, tie up, (odd balls of wool or string) then pop in your kitchen tidy all ready for putting into your general rubbish bin for collection day. I manage a block of Independent Living Units occupied by elderly residents. They found it really hard to understand about recycling as they have been so used to putting everything into one bin. 12 months later, they have GOT IT!! They are AWESOME! So everyone, if our elderly can do it…..!!

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