Back in October, I blogged about my struggles with corn-based, biodegradable trash bags. Like CFL bulbs and natural cleaning products, eco-friendly trash bags could be considered one of those crucial “must-haves” in any serious green home. Yet the prohibitive prices and delicate composition of these bags have even, gasp, me shying away from using them on a regular basis.


Then along came Green Genius, a line of affordable, biodegradable trash and kitchen bags made partially from recycled plastic. I was able to sample a couple of Green Genius bags and they passed my patented “omg, is this bag going to rip?” challenge as I hauled a full bag down four flights of stairs in my apartment building. Sweet relief.


Now, another line of biodegradable — more specifically oxodegradable — trash bags have hit the market and, like Green Genius, they’re tough and durable while being gentle on the pocketbook.


EconoGreen Plastics have released a complete line of bags — Contractor Clean-up Bags, Garage and Automobile Clean-up Bags, Lawn & Leaf Bags, Large Trash Bags, Tall Kitchen Bags, Wet/Dry Vac Liner Bags — and drop cloths that are made in North America from 100 percent recycled plastic and are fully recyclable. The bags contain special additives that make them oxodegradable.


What exactly does that mean? As defined by the folks at EconoGreen, it is “the process that occurs when a material is exposed to oxygen and degrades. For example, EconoGreen Plastics bags and drop cloths contain a unique additive that helps break down the carbon-carbon bonds in the plastic and reduces the strength of the bag when it is exposed to oxygen over a period of time (2-4 years). As the bag continues to degrade into smaller pieces it becomes a nutrient for the microbes that consume the fragments leaving behind water, CO2, and biomass.”


Since a product that’s oxodegradable may not be as easy to understand as one that’s compostable (like the aforementioned leak-prone, corn-based bags), EconoGreen Plastics does a pretty excellent job of spelling out the science behind their products with a robust FAQ section and a list of “11 common myths about oxodegradable bags.” You can even interact with degradable plastics wiz Dr. Chapman on the Econogreen website. 


There’s much to like about EconoGreen Plastics products: they’re made completely from recycled plastic; they break down (eventually) in landfills; they’re competitively priced; they’re super tough having passed my “omg, is this bag going to rip?” challenge with flying colors; and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes (not just the standard trash bag and kitchen bag options). Best of all? They’re not incredibly hard to find. A Home Depot store near you should have them in-stock (the fabulous carries them exclusively online) so no need to hunt them down at an obscure specialty retailer.


What are your feelings about regular plastic trash bags vs. compostable trash bags vs. degradable plastic trash bags? Have you put all three to the test? 



Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

A green trash bag that hangs tough
A new line of guilt-free plastic trash bags and drop cloths from EconoGreen Plastics are oxdegradable, affordable and, refreshingly, tough-as-nails.