We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are Environmentally-Friendly Plastic Bags?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
All Things Nature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All Things Nature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Environmentally-friendly plastic bags are a type of bag that is biodegradable, and will break down generally in a few months in a compost bin, rather than over thousands of years in a landfill. They are often made from materials such as corn starch, which decompose much more easily. Some heavier weighted environmentally-friendly plastic bags may be reused multiple times to bring items home from the grocery store, such as the somewhat more popular cloth bags that are now produced. When used properly, these eco-friendly bags can be beneficial to the environment, but it is important not to simply throw them in the trash after use.

In order for environmentally-friendly plastic bags to break down, they require light and air. Simply throwing them in the trash where they will be taken to a landfill likely means they will be covered with pounds of other trash and might never degrade, much like regular plastic bags. It is also possible for them to find their way into rivers and oceans and potentially harm wildlife, also just like regular plastic bags. People who use environmentally-friendly plastic bags should be prepared to compost them in order for the bags to actually break down and not contribute to the amount of trash already on the planet.

There are many instructions to be found online for creating a home compost system. It is easy and can even be done on a countertop, and is a great way to use food scraps and yard clippings to create a natural fertilizer for a garden. Bags that are biodegradable can be added to a compost bin, where they will break down and be truly environmentally friendly. One thing to keep in mind is that biodegradable, environmentally-friendly plastic bags are often sold to pick up pet waste.

Again, these pet waste bags should not simply be thrown in the trash, but they also should not be added to a regular compost. It is possible to create a separate compost system just for these bags to allow them to degrade and return to the soil. This compost should not be used in a garden for fertilizer, but it is an eco-friendly way to dispose of pet waste.

Other types of environmentally-friendly plastic bags might not be biodegradable like the ones mentioned above. These bags might just be made of heavier weight plastic, often with sturdy reinforced handles. These may be used repeatedly to bring groceries home without needing to use the many plastic bags given out in stores. When these are thrown away, however, they will still contribute to the amount of landfill waste on the planet.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Fa5t3r — On Apr 13, 2014

@pastanaga - Some smaller communities do have joint compost bins, but it's not as common as it could be and I'm not sure that these kinds of bags would work in that situation, because I think they take much longer to compost than the average food scrap.

I'd rather than everyone just decided to grow up and use reusable bags instead of expecting plastic bags.

Even aside from how much litter they create, they are so harmful to sealife it's not funny. Sea turtles are probably going to go extinct in the end because we like our convenience.

By pastanaga — On Apr 12, 2014

@irontoenail - I really think that regions should just commit to either this kind of bag, or not having plastic bags at all. If a whole region had this kind of bag and allowed them to be picked up like any other kind of recycling, I think the problem would basically be solved. Environmentally friendly plastic bags aren't going to do any good unless people are sure what needs to be done with them.

I often wish that we had big processing plants for compost the way we do for waste water. So much food gets wasted otherwise, something like that would be great for a community and as a bonus, they could provide the compost to farmers and stop them from using artificial fertilizers.

By irontoenail — On Apr 12, 2014

I didn't actually know that you had to expose those eco-friendly bags to light and air or put them through the compost for them to decompose. I thought they would simply do it automatically, even if they were thrown out into the landfill.

It's kind of tough, because it's difficult to know what kind of bag you have. It wouldn't be a great idea to put ordinary supermarket bags into your compost.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.