February 24, 2018

Litter Cleanups Add an Additional 12 million Plastic Trash Bags to Landfills

Annual litter cleanups add an additional 12 million plastic trash bags to landfills every year.

Wounded Nature – Working Veterans is asking other non-profits to quit using plastic trash bags for their annual litter cleanups.


Every year more than 12 million Americans will participate in an annual litter cleanup campaign.  This results in 12 million plastic trash bags being added to the landfill debris.  If you have participated in a cleanup, you know the routine – upon signing in most organizations will give you a t-shirt, plastic trash bag and a pair of gloves.

Almost every ocean and environmental related non-profit stages an annual cleanup.  These events usually are geared towards getting the non-profit’s name out in front of the public and potential donors.  Most of these cleanups occur on easy to access public beaches and roadways.  The majority of non-profits staging annual cleanups “estimate” the volume of trash they pick up and the number of participants who participated.  While some of these estimates are questionable, the volume of plastic trash bags being used is not.

Keep American Beautiful (represents the plastics and bottling industry) alone buys and provides more than 4 million plastic trash bags annually to their cleanup volunteers.

Wounded Nature’s solution is reusable burlap bags.  “We have been using them for years and have tested the bags in some of the most harsh environments imaginable” states Rudy Socha, CEO of Wounded Nature – Working Veterans.  “these bags are used by volunteers and then the litter and debris collected is dumped out of the bag into a dumpster or trash can.  At the end of the event, the bags can either be collected by the organization and reused on their next cleanup or kept by volunteers to be used at home for yard debris.”

“As a non-profit, several factors come into play regarding bag choice and the biggest issue is cost.  Secondary is durability – do we need a contractor grade bag or can we get away with cheap bags for cigarette butts and beverage cans?   The most a large plastic contractor trash bag will cost is .40 per bag while a very large burlap bag like the ones Wounded Nature uses cost $3.00 each in bulk. The difference for Wounded Nature is we do not provide all of our volunteers with branded T-shirts or gloves.  We throw all of our costs into making the planet a better place for the next generation.”

“The bags we use actually start breaking down within 3 months after being exposed to water whereas some contractor grade trash bags can last in the environment for over 100 years.  If branding is important for the non-profit they can get their burlap sacks screen printed for their annual cleanup.”

“Wounded Nature – Working Veterans does NOT stage an annual cleanup – we work on cleaning up coastal areas year round.   We remove trash and debris and have been testing and using burlap sacks for over three years with great success.”