My Perfect Kitchen Trash Can and Perfectly Cheap Trash Bags, Too!

I know “hate” is a strong word, but that’s how I feel about trash. Can’t stand it. But my loathing for trash is nothing compared to Lauren Singer, who has been trash-free for two years. It’s hard to imagine such a thing, but after hearing her story, she’s got my attention.

The entire amount of trash Lauren has produced in 24 months fits into a pint-size Mason jar.

Papers in jar on table

photo credit: TrashIsForTossers

I can’t say I’m anywhere close to Lauren when it comes to trash. I’m in that stage where I need a proper trash receptacle strategically located by my desk and in every other room of the house and garage as well. The most important receptacle is in the kitchen. It needs to be substantial in size, handy by location, as attractive as possible, impeccably clean and covered.

I have tested, tried and or reviewed every kind of trash receptacle in my search for the most perfect product out there. I have come to the well-educated opinion that stainless steel trash cans by Simple Human are the very best. I have the 30-litre/8 gallon round step can model in my kitchen.

Bag and Kitchen

This beauty fits in a corner, against a wall—just about anywhere. It has a removable rigid liner for easy cleaning. The steel pedal is sturdy and the lid gives a smooth, silent close every time. It does not show fingerprints—also a big deal for me.

As much as I love this can, it comes with a problem: expensive trash bag refills. The folks at Simple Human insist that I need to use the bags designed especially for this can.

You know me—I’m always looking for a cheaper alternative and that’s what I did for my lovely stainless steel trash can. I decided to use Kirkland Drawstring Kitchen Bags instead of the Simple Human brand. I get these at Costco, but Kirkland brand products are also available online without a Costco membership.

Bag and

This is a cheaper alternative for sure but as I learned quickly, not so attractive.

Bag and Kitchen

Suddenly, I realized why Simple Human had to make special bags for this receptacle and why the rigid liner in a Simple Human trash can has a hole at the top at the back of the liner. Bingo! That’s is the secret.

A pot that is sitting on a wooden table


Let me explain how to use that hole to make an alternative bag work perfectly:

1. Notice that a Kirkland bag has seams on two sides with the drawstrings in the middle front and back.

A person sitting on a sofa

Bag and Kitchen

2. Grab the top of one of the seams and tie a knot.

A piece of paper Bag and Kitchen Bag and Hand

3. Place the bag in the rigid liner then feed the tail of the knot from the outside through that hole and pull it inside the can, including the knot itself.

Bag and Knot

Bag and Kitchen Bag and Kitchen

4. Stretch the top of the bag around the liner, which will now fit snuggly, and push the bulk of the bag into the liner.

Bag and Kitchen

5. Place the liner back into the can.

Bag and Lid

6. Close the lid and voila! A perfect fit that completely hides the trash bag with the lid closed and leaves the drawstrings intact for easy removal and tying closed when the can is full.

Image and Bag

I’m a bit jealous knowing that Lauren Singer does not spend money on trash cans. She doesn’t waste money on trash bags either.

Lauren’s example has given me a renewed desire to cut down on trash in every way possible.

In the meantime, I couldn’t be happier with my Simple Human can and super cheap trash bags.

Woman texting on her smartphone
A little girl standing in a kitchen
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20 replies
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  1. Tammy Smallwood says:

    I use Sam’s Club member mark bags with the process above and i LOVE it! Works great!! Trash bags are 7 cents each vs 25 cents!

  2. Olsson says:

    You don’t need to tie a knot in the trash bag, just pull some of the bag threw the hole and hold it while you put the liner back in the can. Works great and the bag never slips out because the part of tet trash bag is held in place by the liner and the can. Any trash bag works for me, cheapest is what i use and never have any issues.

  3. Sophie LaFontaine says:

    My garbage cans are used-up coffee cans, lined with plastic bags from the grocery stores. I haven’t bought trash bags in decades.

  4. ABC says:

    Hmmm….I see plenty of paper in there….that could have been shredded and put into the compost pile. 😉

    I’m ok with the plain old trashcan I have….the lid may not be airtight, but it keeps odors in pretty well, as we can tell when, unbeknownst to us, something is stinkin’ in there and we throw something in and swing the lid! *whew!*

    I use leftover Wal-Mart bags for my bathroom trash cans….they are hidden around on the other side of the toilet, so it doesn’t bother me that the handles hang down the outsides of the can, and I turn the side of the bag with the writing on it toward the toilet….you can’t even see it.

    But if anyone has or wants to buy one of those Simple Human cans, Mary’s tip is a winner!

  5. MimiB says:

    I purchased our Simple Human trash can 4 years ago when my 2 daughters and 3 yo granddaughter were living with us. Talk about abuse! That can was opened and closed a million times a day especially by my granddaughter who loved stepping on the pedal but it works as great today as it did on day one. It was expensive to spend that much for 1 can but well worth it because I don’t miss the cheap plastic trash can with the flip lid that wouldn’t stay on, hold odors in and was easily tipped over. I look forward to using our Simple Human for many, many more years.

      • Sophie LaFontaine says:

        I looked and looked, and it seems like she slowly switched out the products that she used… like using dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. I guess she also composts a lot… I don’t have a garden where I could put that stuff…

  6. hj says:

    I have a Simple Human trash can and I agree it is the best can ever. I love that the bags never slip down when I’m putting trash in it, no fingerprints on the stainless steel and no odor comes from it. I agree with JLB they are expensive to purchase, but ours sits in the kitchen and looks as good today as it did five years ago when it was new. We only use one bag per week, so the cost of bags is quite low (also use Costco bags).

  7. JLB says:

    A $70 trashcan is unnecessary and entirely too expensive. My kitchen ‘trashcan’ is a small repurposed wastebasket kept under the sink. I use cheap bags & take the (very small) amount of garbage I generate to the dumpster twice a day. Surprised someone who’s always going on about frugality didn’t think of a solution like this instead of wasting money.

    • disqus_ZSmoKhip0R says:

      Not everyone is in the same situation as you… I live in a private home where there is no dumpster…

  8. Muffie says:

    I have the same Simple Human trash can and agree that it is a winner. Where I have you beat is that I use recycled bags from the store which can be fit into the trashcan the same way as you described for using the Kirkland bags. Now trash bags are free and helping save the environment at the same time.

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