Many households who are making an effort to reduce the volume of single-use plastics they consume have trouble replacing one item…..finding a suitable sustainable alternative for their rubbish bin liner. In fact, it was only a few short years ago when the Eastern states of Australia were proposing to ban plastic shopping bags that the ban was met with an overwhelming “ but what are we going to use for bin liners?!” from a loud, irate section of the public.

In this post I’m sharing four alternatives to single use plastic bin liners.

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Many of the changes we make to create a more sustainable household start with a change in mindset and us asking ourselves 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 a sustainable living journey at some stage 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 your kitchen rubbish bin has a 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 four alternatives to single-use bin liners.


4 Alternatives to Single-Use Bin Liners

Option 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 re-purposes a plastic bag that’s already in circulation. 

Option 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. 

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. 

Option 4: Use a Compostable Bin Liner

If you can’t stomach the thought of having a nude bin, you don’t read newspapers and rarely receive plastic satchels in the post, using a compostable bin liner may be for you.

Compostable bin liners are typically made from plant-based materials such as corn starch and will completely break down over time. Compostable bin liners contrast to biodegradable bin liners that just break down into smaller pieces of plastic, called microplastics, which persist in our environment and enter the food chain. Compostable bags are much better for the environment than biodegradable bags. 

Final Thoughts

Like many of the steps required to create a zero-waste household, eliminating the purchase of single-use bin liners are 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 opting for a compostable bin liner over a traditional plastic variety, breaking up with single-use bin liners is one simple way you can live lighter today without harming tomorrow. 


Already broken up with single-use bin liners in your household? Share what change you’ve made in the comments below!

For strategies and support to ditch single-use plastics, join my FREE 5-day Plastic Free Challenge.