How to line a bin without plastic bags

With supermarkets now banned from giving customers free single-use plastic bags and the awareness around the issue of plastic pollution growing, it seems that plastic bags are on the decline. Which is great news, except it begs the question… with many households being used to reusing their plastic bags for bin liners, what is the best alternative eco-friendly way to line my bin?

The answer is certainly not a plastic bin liner!

So, how do you line a rubbish bin without a plastic bag?

The perfect solution would be not to buy anything that creates non-recyclable waste and to compost all your food waste. But, who’s perfect?! For the vast majority, zero waste living simply isn’t feasible - we prefer to strive for low waste.

So, here are just some of the plastic-free bin liner options available to you:

Paper lined

This option is great for using up old or unwanted newspapers, magazines or used postage packing paper. 

Not convinced the paper will stay in place? Sounds like a bit of a faff? It’s more effective and much easier than you might think! You don’t need to be a creative type or have a degree in origami, here’s a really simple tutorial with a diagram (or video!) for you to follow.

  1. Lay a couple of sheets of newspaper out flat.
  2. Fold down the top left corner to the opposite corner, forming a triangle.
  3. Fold corner 1 over, reaching between corners 2 and 3.
  4. Fold corner 3 over.
  5. Gather two of the flaps on corner 2, folding down the front.
  6. Repeat with the other two, folding down the reverse side.
  7. Open up the pouch and place it in your bin. And TA-DA! You have a plastic-free bin liner.
Bin liner newspaper

Prefer to learn via video? We've put together this simple video demo to show you 'How to line your bin with newspaper':

Like the idea of lining your bin with newspaper but don’t have any to hand? Try asking friends, family, neighbours, local businesses; it’s likely someone you know will have a stash they would be glad for you to take off their hands! 

No liner

This option is hands down, the most eco-friendly way to line your bin…. You simply don’t! Keep your bin liner-free and just give it a little rinse out as and when it’s needed in between uses.

The no liner option might not work for everybody and it depends on what you’re putting in your bin. If you’re using your bin for food scraps then this option probably isn’t going to work for you -  although if food scraps are what’s stopping you from going liner free, have you considered composting your food scraps instead? Or you could separate them from your main rubbish and dispose of them separately to avoid that gross puddle of stinky bin juice. (Want to try and reduce the amount of food going to waste at home? Check out our blog - 5 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste.)

Cardboard postal boxes

Most of us have a stash of unwanted cardboard postal boxes from online orders. If one happens to be the right size to slot into your bin to act as a liner, great!  If not, use the box as your bin. When full, empty the contents into an external bin and reuse the box over and over again. 

Large paper bags also work well as replacement bins. Ideally you want to still recycle the box or paper bag so avoiding putting anything in it that’s too messy is best (card and paper needs to be ‘clean’ from food residue to be recyclable). 

Don’t have any cardboard boxes or paper bags at hand? Again, do your friends, family or neighbours a favour and take them off their hands.

If you’re not ready to compost your food scraps just yet, the methods we’ve covered so far probably won’t appeal to you. Here are some other options worth considering, perhaps as a transition step...

Reuse your non-recyclables

If you have any non-recyclable containers that are no longer of use, repurposing as a bin is the perfect way to reuse it before discarding! Don’t forget to keep emptying and reusing it until it’s actually ready for the bin itself.

Biodegradable vs compostable bin bags

If you really can’t bear to set your bin free from its liner, there are some greener alternatives out there. You do need to be careful to do your research as there are also lots that claim to be eco-friendly but can’t actually back it up.

Firstly, let’s cover the difference between the often confusing terms -  compostable and biodegradable.

Biodegradable bin liner

Biodegradable basically means it will degrade into smaller particles over time. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll degrade over a short time! Technically speaking, even some plastics will biodegrade… eventually. 

That’s not to say all biodegradable bin liners are bad for the environment. It just means you need to do your homework. Ask the supplier what materials they’re made of (be wary if it’s made of a mix of recycled and ‘other’ materials) and how long it takes to break down. 

Compostable bin liners

These will break down completely into non-toxic materials, but not necessarily in your home compost and not all compostable bags will be approved by all councils... Be on the safe and start by checking out the waste collection services offered by your local council. If you’re using bags that can be composted at home or are approved by your council, then you need to ensure you only use them for compostable waste - i.e. food scraps!

Plastic is having a devastating impact on our planet, but with a bit of forward thinking we can all help change that - one small change at a time. At Little B we help people reduce their waste and live more sustainable through our range of eco-friendly products. You can browse our online shop here - www.thislittleb.com

You can follow our social media profiles where we share lots of eco living tips - www.facebook.com/thislittleb | www.instagram.com/thislittleb - as well as on our blog - www.thislittleb.com/blog 

"There is no such things as “away”, when we throw something away it must go somewhere."

Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff