These reusable trash bags could help the world reduce its plastic waste

They're sturdy and easy to wash. But will consumers be willing to get their hands dirty for the sake of the environment?

Trash bags present the most ridiculous kind of conundrum. They’re meant to contain our waste and therefore assist us in disposing of it in a way that’s kind to our environment — but trash bags are also made of plastic, which is inherently terrible for the environment. A classic catch-22. The kind that seems impossible to change.

Okay, well, now that we’ve spiraled about that for thirty seconds or so, there’s some good news: An Australian startup has created a trash bag you can use without actually throwing the bag itself in the dumpster. Buying a TOMbag is more of a commitment than grabbing a pack of black plastic bags from the corner store, but it’s also a quick and easy way you can reduce your daily impact on climate change.

TOMbags isn’t the first alternative trash bag company to pop up over the years, but it’s definitely the most sustainable option we’ve seen so far. Now the trick will be convincing the average consumer to stop buying disposable ones.

A problem that's not going anywhere — TOMbag’s founders, Sasha and Johnathan Pestano, credit the birth of their daughter with spurring the idea for the company. “Here we are bringing reusable metal straws and tote bags around with us, and yet we’re continuing to use multiple plastic trash bags every week,” Sasha told Fast Company. That year — 2019 — Australia used something like 3.3 billion trash bags. That’s just in Australia, which has less than a tenth of the population of the U.S.


The bags themselves, which range in price from $28 to $42 depending upon size, are made entirely of recycled water bottles. They’re thick and leakproof, with two sturdy handles on top to maneuver the bag in and out of your indoor trash bin. If you take care of one well, it could last you for years.

Do your part — The Pestanos know it’s not going to be easy convincing the general public to move away from disposable trash bags. Having to dump your trash out of a bag and into an outdoor bin can be messy and smelly.

But all TOMbags are machine washable, and early adopters have actually written to the Pestanos to let them know they appreciate the new outlook the process gives them. There’s nothing quite like getting intimate with last night’s dinner to familiarize yourself with how much trash you’re producing.


Is ditching trash bags alone going to stop climate change in its tracks? Absolutely not. But much like reducing the number of single-use plastics, we use in other areas of our lives — water bottles, straws, and shopping bags, for example — changing our individual habits a little bit at a time is much, much better than doing nothing at all.