by Laura McIlwaine May 11, 2018 7 Comments

Many of the changes we make to create a more sustainable household start with a change in mindset.

Often this mindset change is sparked by us asking the simple question…

“Do I Really Need This Item?”

This is generally followed with “What Can I Do Instead?” when we realize that we really don’t need the item in question.

Those of us embarking on an eco-living journey may then start to question habits that we inherited from our parents. Things that we’ve always done a certain way, because, well, that’s just how things are done.

Take the humble kitchen rubbish bin for example…..

I bet yours has a bin liner inside it, or if it doesn’t now, it did at some stage.

Sure, bin liners have a purpose…to keep our rubbish enclosed in a bag and to keep the bin as clean as possible.

But (and here’s the big question)…

Do we really need this item?

Do we really need bin liners?

Can we get away with not using a bin liner, or at least, not using a single-use bin liner?

It turns out that we can!

Here’s three alternatives to single-use bin liners.

1. Reuse Postage Satchels as Bin Liners

If you’re already composting food waste, recycling soft plastics and diverting recyclables to your kerbside recycling scheme, it’s likely that your household generates very little waste. In this instance it may be viable for you to reuse satchels from parcels you receive in the mail.

While still technically a plastic bin liner, this action eliminates the need for you to purchase new bin liners and re-purposes a plastic bag that’s already in circulation.

2. Line Your Bin with Newspaper

If you’re a newspaper-reading household you can repurpose the paper to line your bin.

Simply place the sheets along the base and sides of your bin. When the bin is almost full roll the paper over the top to create a parcel and place in your wheelie bin.

Of course, if you read the news online (like I do) this option may not suit your household. Perhaps then, you’re ready to try the next option.

3. Have a Nude Bin – Don’t Use a Bin Liner

Similar to option 1, if you’ve taken many steps to reduce your household’s waste you may find that you can get away without a bin liner at all, or (gasp!) not even having a bin!

A nude bin is particularly achievable if your bin is relatively clean thanks to diverting your food scraps to compost or backyard chickens, using reusable menstrual products and cloth nappies and wipes (if there’s a baby in household).

In this instance it may make perfect sense to have a nude bin.

On the occasional weeks when you need to empty your bin simply carry the bin outside and empty the contents directly into your wheelie bin.

Is There a Sustainable Single-Use Bin Liner?

Yes there is!

If a nude bin isn't for you, you don't use newspapers and you don't have a ready supply of postage satchels to re-use, compostable bin liners might be for you!

Made from sustainably sourced plant starch they compost in a well-functioning composting environment, just like any other plant will.

Sustainahome stocks both the BioBag and If You Care Range of compostable bin liners.

Click HERE to browse the range of Biobag Compostable Bin Liners.

Click HERE to browse the range of If You Care Household Products.

Final Thoughts

Like many of the steps required to create a zero-waste household, eliminating the purchase of single-use bin liners is achievable with a simple change in mindset.

Whether it’s reusing plastic bags you have on hand, lining your bin with newspaper, going without a bin liner altogether, or switching to a compostable bin liner, breaking up with single-use plastic bin liners is one simple way you can live lighter today without harming tomorrow.


Want to learn how to reduce plastics in your home?

To kick-start your plastic free life, click HERE to join our 5-day Plastic Free Challenge (it's FREE!).

5 day Plastic Free Challenge


About the Author:

Laura Trotta is an experienced environmental engineer, award-winning sustainable living educator and the founder of Sustainahome. She’s dedicated over two decades of her life to the sustainability cause and her personal mission in life is to make green mainstream.

A passionate believer in addressing the small things to achieve big change, and protecting the planet in practical ways, Laura lives with her husband and two sons in Adelaide, South Australia.

Laura McIlwaine
Laura McIlwaine

7 Responses

Gary borofsky
Gary borofsky

October 09, 2019

I just applied for a new patented paper supermarket bag that will replace the 30gallon plastic liners for home use
I do have a simple solution to a big problem


August 04, 2019

(2019: late to the convo, sorry)
Another option is to use a cloth bin liners. If you’re recycling and composting, most of your “messy garbage” isn’t in your kitchen trash bin anyway. So, making a garbage bag for your kitchen trash bin out of an old sheet would be a good way to reuse the sheet and take care of trash.
You might have to use a large garbage bag for collection, but that isn’t as bad as having a whole bunch of small bags into a large garbage bag. So, that’s reducing the amount of plastic you’re using.
Online, there’s patterns, tutorials, and instructions on how to sew a reusable garbage bag.
Good luck.


February 27, 2019

I think about this a lot too. We reuse plastic bags and post satchels, often ones I’ve reclaimed from work. My thoughts were that it is still really important to keep rubbish contained in some way. To minimise the chance of scraps of plastic escaping before they get to landfill. A “nude” bin is just way too risky in this regard.


August 23, 2018

Need to get bio bags into mainstream supermarkets (and non degradable bags out!) Small steps for mainstream Australia.


July 01, 2018

There are also for those like us, pet owners, so I can’t see just tipping along with food waste now animal waste into communal bins (block of 26 units) not sure how healthy this is for days & days waiting to be collected and taken away? Also we, like I am sure many others, no longer receive a newspaper. So the “use paper to line your bin” is not going to work. Not a perfect answer is it?


May 28, 2018

I use empty milk cartons instead of a kitchen bin and I buy mainly unpackaged food.


May 28, 2018

I think about this sort of stuff a lot. We have three bins, compost/recyclables and ‘waste’. I currently use biobegranle bags for the bin. It gets me thinking, when it breaks down, all the plastics that are not recyclable and in the ‘waste’ bag, do they then create more issues blowing around at the tip, as opposed to being stored in a bag that’s not breaking down?

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