How Cheaper Garbage Bags Can End Up Costing You More

Shoppers tangle with decisions of cost vs. quality all the time, but in the case of garbage bags, the blog The Simple Dollar argues, quality and thriftiness go hand in hand.

Reiterating the lesson driven home to us in those old “Hefty Hefty Hefty, Wimpy Wimpy Wimpy” commercials, the anguished writer explains why it’s better to shell out more money for tough sacks:

We bought low-end garbage bags once. Of the first nine bags we used, two of them ripped and dumped their contents all over our kitchen floor on the way to the trash can. Each mess took at least ten minutes to clean up – one mess was almost entirely dry stuff, so it was fairly easy, but the other mess involved some sticky items, including a glass bottle that cracked and leaked some maple syrup on the floor.

The time lost cleaning up these messes almost immediately ate up the “value” we got in buying the low-end brand versus the price we would pay buying better bags in bulk.

Since then, we’ve stuck to the brand we trust – Glad Forceflex tall kitchen bags – which have won garbage bag comparisons in both Real Simple and Consumer Reports. We can get these bags in bulk for about eighteen cents a bag, compared to roughly fifteen cents a bag for generic. Given that we have, in three years, only had one breakage of our preferred kind of bag, we’ll stick to our preferred brand, thank you.

Whenever I make a comment along these lines, people almost always suggest not filling the bags as much. “If you only filled the generics 80% full, then you wouldn’t have the breakage!” Well, let’s look at that scenario. If I have five 13 gallon bags and I fill each of them 80% full, I’ve got 52 gallons of trash. On the other hand, if I have four 13 gallon bags and I fill each of them to the brim, I have the same amount of trash — 52 gallons.

So, I can either use five generic bags (which cost fifteen cents a pop), empty the trash 25% more often, put more plastic into the environment, and spend a total of 75 cents, or I can use four of our preferred bags (which cost eighteen cents a pop), put less plastic into the environment, and only spend 72 cents.

I really like how he not only applied stats to the situation there, but also mathematically proved how “wimpy wimpy wimpy” destroys the environment. Impressive work, The Simple Dollar.

The Cheap Garbage Bag Dilemma [The Simple Dollar]
(Photo: Clean Wal-Mart)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.