Be selective about what you buy.
I remember when I got my first pair of canvas shopping bags. I took them home and declared "We will never need plastic bags again!" This was met with "Ok! So what are we going to use for the rubbish bin?" I confess at the time I didn't know and we continued to work our way through the mountain of plastic bags breeding underneath our sink. Here's what I wish past me knew...
1. Separate your rubbish: One bin is not going to cut it! You'll need at least three containers to manage your rubbish without plastics. One for recyclables, one for non recyclables and one for food scraps. If you break it down further - you'll need more bins.
2. The bins don't need to be bins. Most bins are designed to hold plastic bags and manage all rubbish types so they're designed making compromises. If you're not using plastics and separating your rubbish you can find any box or container that fits your space and function best (I used cardboard boxes until our most recent move). If you handle your rubbish well, the only container that needs a lid is your food scraps container.
3. Composting is not as scary as it sounds. I think it gets over complicated a lot. It's what's supposed to happen so give your scraps some dirt and get out of the way. Try it until it works for you.
4. Learn your recyclables from your non recyclables. It's amazing what can be recycled from your kitchen and bathroom. Your recyclable bin should always have more in it than your non recyclable bin.
5. Be selective about what you buy. If you shop to avoid plastics in products and packaging your non recyclable bin will be the least used bin in the house. Plus you'll have so many glass containers and jars that you'll never need to buy storage containers again!
6. Rinse your rubbish. Yogurt containers and milk cartons especially! You will regret it if you don't. There should be no food in your recyclable and non recyclable containers and all the rubbish should be clean and dry.
7. Buy meat cuts that don't have bones. Meat is hard to handle so save yourself the hassle and buy meat cuts without bones.
8. Keep your food scraps container clean. Keep it close by so you can use it, empty it and clean it regularly.
9. Start a garden. I know it's a tricky one, but if you possibly can, grow some of your own food. Even if it's tiny food in a tiny pot. It means buying less and you'll always have a use for your food scraps.
10. Your rubbish can be cleaner and more manageable without plastic bags. I know! You'll never have to clean a dirty, stinky rubbish bin again. Who knew!?!
(image source: Sarah Starkey)