Garbage Bags

Sunday, 29 June 2008

While the average person in North America creates up to a half a tonne of garbage per year, buying a garbage bag is not easy. With so many on the market these days touting strength, durability, eco-friendliness, and odour-resistant, itís hard to know where to start. We do a test of garbage backs to if one works better than the rest.


The Basics

  • Depending on the type of garbage you usually have and where you need to take it, you’ll want to consider some or all of these characteristics in a garbage bag.

    • Puncture and rip resistance

    • Leak-proofness

    • Strength

    • Thickness (usually thicker means stronger, but not always)

    • Seam strength

    • Durability against dragging and dropping

    • Closures/handle/draw-string strength

    • Size

    • Price

  • Name brand bags tend to be more expensive than generic brands, but they also tend to be tougher. However, more expensive doesn’t always mean better. Most brands range in price from 5 cents to 29 cents a bag.

  • Garbage bags come in a variety of sizes: 13 gallon, 30 gallon, 33 gallon and 39 gallon.

  • Built-in closures reduce the need to keep track of twist ties

    • Drawstring bag is pulled shut with coloured strings to life and tie.

    • Quick-tie closes by cross-tying flaps of the bag.

    • Handle-tie has built in extra strong handles.

  • There are specialty brands for recycling, leaf collection, etc.

  • Odour-resistant bags claims to neutralize trash odours. They don’t mask them but transform them to remove any offensive smell.

  • Environmentally-friendly bags are either made of recycled plastic or of bio-degradable material (e.g. corn starch). These bags tend to be weaker, however, so be careful about what you shove into one.

Other Considerations

  • More important than a garbage bag is reducing the amount of garbage your household produces. Here are a few helpful tips:

    • Reduce natural waste in two ways. First, work hard at not letting food rot or go to waste. Save leftovers and don’t over stock the fridge. Second, start a backyard compost, which is a dramatic way to reduce the weight (and smell and leakiness) of waste.

    • Recycle everything you can. Every city has its own recycling methods so get familiar with your local blue box program and join in. Every year they accept more and more items, so be sure to read the city recycling website once in a while.

    • Try to avoid buying products that are over packaged. If the waste never comes home with you it never has to be thrown out!


Since durability is a common concern in most households, we tested these garbage bags in a few strength tests:

  • Glad Easy Tie: $0.34 each
  • Light Duty Generic: $0.07each
  • Partially-recycled brand: $0.15
  • Heavy duty generic: $0.12
  • Everyday generic: $0.17

Piñata Test

We filled each bag with newspaper and invited some kids to bash them around until they fell apart. Some definitely lasted longer than others:

  • Light Duty Generic: 2 min 58 sec
  • Partially-Recycled: 2 min 25 sec
  • Everyday Generic: 3 min
  • Heavy duty generic: 5 min 51 sec
  • Glad Easy Tie: Over 6 minutes (ripped in holes rather than split top to bottom like others)

Piñata Test

We took the bags to a lab and tested each in a tensile machine:

  • The Glad Easy Tie was again the strongest in this test.


While the Glad Easy Tie was the strong winner in our tests, regular plastic garbage bags can take over 400 years to break down. For most of your household use, we recommend using environmentally-friendly bags, which only take from 6 months to 3 years to biodegrade. Use Glad Easy Tie only for those really messy or tough jobs.



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