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How green is your bag?


Having recently watched the excellent Uk BBC documentary about the history of landfill sites it made me wonder about the bags of full of output that I throw into my bin every day! Like nappies, I'm reliably informed that, as composite materials, containing medical waste, they are extremely difficult to recycle and so almost all end up in landfill. But the question is, will they ever decompose?

Someone once told me that Nappies in landfill will take between 200 and 500 years to fully decompose & whilst, as a family we try to be recycling conscious, I can't help wondering what all the suppliers of ostomy bags / pouches are doing to make their products eco-friendly, because my rubbish bin sure does fill up with them each fortnight.

When I posted something on Twitter to this effect, I was encouraged by the response from fellow ostomates & therefore this letter is a sort of call for action & perhaps others with more experience in these matters might start to think & shout about what we are throwing into bins every day.

Someone suggested that one option was to use potato starch bags & someone else told me that they had swapped oxo-biodegradable dog poo bags for the complimentary “hygienic & odourised disposal bags” that her supplier sent her each month. However, its what's going in the bags that will remain in the ground & not decompose, for the longest time.

We are not sure if anyone has the magic answer however, we did start asking some of the suppliers, that are keen to get our regular business, if they could provide us with a copy of their company's environmental policy or if they had a research & development unit that might be focusing a part of their time on green issues. Sadly, we can't say that our inboxes have been overflowing with replies!

What next? – we are keen to see what others might think about this subject & to learn about the moves people might be making (or thinking about making) to help nudge the various companies that produce these products to think outside the bin!

Do Tweet us at @HowGreenisYour1

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Hi Matt,

  I certainly applaud your efforts to call attention to an obvious problem.  But what ostomates contribute to the global pollution problem is a drop in the bucket relative to everyone else.  Certainly everyone can do their part to minimize our impact on the planet.......but if you really think it will make a difference you are seriously fooling yourself.  Where I live we implemented commingled recycling, where we put cardboard, paper, plastics, etc all in one dumpster and then it gets hauled away to a sorting center.  Or so it's supposed to.  Since we as a community pay for those dumpsters to be brought to the recycling center, as usual there's money involved.  We found the transporter of the dumpsters would take our money to transport the recycleables and then dump them for free at the landfill.  Nothing was getting recycled.  So we fixed that and now all the recycleables make it to the sorting center.  And most communities in the US have some sort of recycling program........and have for years.  Let me ask you.....have you seen a lot of the plastic we buy everyday come from recycling?  I'll help you answer you don't.  So where is all these years and years of recycled plastic going exactly.  Yeah, good question.  The vast majority of plastic you get (on every piece of food you buy and every piece of merchandise you buy) is almost always virgin plastic.  So the fix is in, so to speak.  

Here's another one.  I bought into the recycling thing fully.  I would seperate every piece of cardboard and plastic from my garbage and put it in a seperate can from my regular garbage to bring to the recycling dumpster.  Over the course of 10 or 15 years that adds up to a lot of my time.  So when I used to see people at our garbage transfer station just throw big cardboard boxes in the regular garbage dumpster about 20 feet away from the big "recycling dumpster" I used to get mad.  I mean how friggin' lazy can you be to not walk 20 feet to save the planet.  But many did not.  Then I started hanging around with some biker buddies of mine who had a motorcycle repair shop in an "L" shaped strip mall.  Behind each store were the garbage dumpster allocated to each store.  I used to park in the back of the store to avoid the idiots in the parking lot who feel the need to park right next to me, despite the fact that I park in the farthest spot away from anything in the mall.  One day I was parked out back and the garbage truck came to empty all the dumpsters.  And guess what I saw was in each dumpster.......yup.........cardboard boxes.  From all the merchandise the stores sold. Thousands of pounds of nice clean cardboard........all going into the garbage truck.........not the recycling be dumped in the landfill with the regular garbage.  And this happened twice a week, every week....and still does.  Then I thought about my stupid ass trying to get every snippet of cardboard in my kitchen into my recycling can.  I didn't recycle even half of one of those dumpsters worth of cardboard in a whole year........and I was thinking I was making an impact?  Even my local McDonalds.........which only uses paper and plastic on everything it sells....only has one big dumpster that EVERYTHING goes in.......and doesn't get recycled.  And a McDonalds generates a LOT of recycleable trash.  Except they don't recycle it.  

So if you want to do your part and use bags made out of paper bags or bio-this or bio-that..........more power to you!  But until the big guys, and the world in general acknowledge the obvious problem we have with plastic contamination of our oceans, landfills, etc...........I hate to say it..........but you're just spinnin' your wheels.  Again, it's a great gesture.......but if you were ever preachin' to the wrong group of folks about making an impact on the word.......this is probably it.  

Hey, I still cut up my barriers and wrappers to eliminate any holes that animals can get stuck in........and I put my ostomy stuff in the recycle bin.......but what happens after that is purely a function of where the profit lies.  And it's NOT in recycling or saving the planet.....yet.  

As usual..........just sayin'

Great post topic my friend!




Instead of complementarty/dog poo bags you can always use a few sheets of newspaper to wrap your used bag in, until the 1980's even into 90's  thats what was advised to use and some still use it to this day.

Use tissues instead of dry/wet wipes, tissues break down much quicker than wipes.

You can always ask your supplier if they will let you use Koenig Rutzen Bag the old rubber reusable bags so you can wash them out and re-use, and there are a few biodegradable bags available now 2 that I'm aware of maybe more I haven't heard about yet.

I've always emptied my bags before throwing them away 



Good for you for kickstarting an idea! Things will never improve unless we demand it, so I applaud your efforts to look at what individuals can do. We don't have to look very far to see the effects of climate change - this year especially, so we all need to think of ways to stop the ruination of the planet. As they say, the journey starts with the first step.



Agree small steps.

I have been trying to start a conversation with most of the providers / manufacturers / suppliers in the UK especially as most are agressivly marketing their products as they know they are onto a good thing as whilst some of us might contemplate changing the type of pouch or testing out a new product, I have tended to stick with the brand of bag that I was first given in hospital.

The Aura Flushable pouch is marketed in the UK as a very "convenient" option -  they have an advert that concentrates on the fact that you can go out to a friends for the evening & change your pouch and not feel bad about trying to dispose of a bag of waste! [you can safley flush the inner bag however, its questionable if the outer skin is recyclable]

I asked one of their sales team if they had ever thought about advertising it as "ecological" but I got rather a blank look back!

I will continue to push & poke the various companies that contact me and post questions on Twitter in the hope that one day their reseach and development team might listen & do something.

Agree with other comments posted that its such a small "issue" however, we can only ask and then ask again.....


thanks for the reply Bob - it's such a shame that I cant send you a link to this fantastic BBC documentary - it certainly turned my head and yes its a small problem, but in the UK local authorities are being forced to act [by law] however, much is still being shipped off to Asia.


Just as in life things ostomy products are the same they change with the times, I've seen lots of changes in ostomy products over the last 30 years.

It's product delvelopers you need to speak to but a stoma nurse has too choose to put them in touch with you.

They outer skin on Aura isn't flushable they always say rip that of and throw in the bin.

I trial products for a company every now and then, there are lots of things going on,  I'm sure all companys are working on new products for the near future too. Hopefully one of them will pick you to be a tester. 


I have to agree with everything that Bob said.

Hollister changed their bags a while back to be more "eco-friendly" according to their customer service department. Unfortunately, the newer bags are inferior to their older ones as far as I'm concerned.

The earth only has 10 more years anyway…


Well........shit then.....damn the torpedoes.........full speed ahead!  I believe the worlds biggest (and last) party has just started!!! crack me up Brother!!!



Every day is a party as long as we're vertical and not horizontal, Bob! :-D

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