Grocery Bag Trash Can

Tell me if this makes sense. Most people buy a lot of one sort of bag (garbage bags) while simultaneously throwing out lots of another kind of bag (grocery bags.)

Despite our best efforts to take reusable cloth bags and backpacks with us to the grocery store, we still somehow manage to end up with way too many plastic grocery bags than we can possibly use.

If this sounds like a problem you might be familiar with, then this is the solution.

grocery bag trash can

Now I’m certainly not the first person to revolt against this perverted scheme concocted by Big Grocery Bag.


This is the wire bag holder from Amazon that we used in our last place. It hangs any grocery bag, and works well most of the time. Except that anything sort of mushy or drippy tends to leak, and heavy stuff will make the bag fall out. It’s a smart solution but just not quite smart enough.

Of course at first we tried a standard 5 gallon bucket – but grocery bags are much smaller than 5 gallons, so they just wilt into a sad plastic pile at the bottom.

I solved this problem by testing one of every shape and size of bucket we could get our hands on. The bucket that worked best is this 3.25 gallon square bucket.


I think square works better because grocery bags aren’t round on the bottom, and its handles are on opposite sides not all the way around.

The bag stays in very well, but I’m still considering just getting a big rubber band for the rim around the outside of the bucket to hold the bag in really tight. You’d only need one to last through hundreds of plastic bags!

We found ours from a Safeway deli, originally holding frosting. Check out our free bucket locator list for other places to check. And if you’ve found another size and shape of can that works well with grocery bags let us know in the comments.

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7 thoughts on “Grocery Bag Trash Can

  1. Square buckets work fine.
    As to a large rubber band, I got a large rubber tractor inner tube being dicarded by a tire retail shop, It had a hole in it and non-repairable, and thereby proceeded to cut strips 1.0″ or so wide, thereby recycling the tire tube, No cost to me for the bucket or the tube, only the time to keep me busy. Ain’t retirement wonderful.

  2. I use a 3 gallon round bucket with no problem of the bag staying in. I can set it right on the counter and is easier to put trash in versus a bigger one on the floor. Also means less messing when tossing trash in and fewer spots to clean up.

    When the bag is full, I tie shut, and toss THAT into the larger 13 gallon which is lined with a bag. This way I use only one 13 gallon a week instead of the dozen or more I used to use. Also helps keep up with the excess grocery store bags. If I am going to toss the grocery store bags anyways, they may as well get tossed while full of trash rather than empty.

    I already had the 3 gallon bucket so going to buy or find one was not needed. I always try to use stuff I already have on hand. Although I usually keep an eye out for more buckets because there are always uses for more of them. They are easlily stored for future use.

    • My wife and I have been discussing this post for the last 35 minutes. I think that you were previously using 13 gallon bags in the 13 gallon container and perhaps taking them out more often than when they were full. She thinks you were stuffing 13 gallon bags into a 3 gallon bucket and saying “damn, these fill up fast.” Please clarify for us before we break up and get divorced.

  3. I reuse the bags in a bathroom trash can/bucket. Find one that fits the bag(round) and use a twist tie(wire based) from bread to tie the handles together. Keeps the bag in place and change the tie over when you change the bag.

  4. The leaking bag problem results from holes in he bags. I check for holes in the bags by holding them up to a light source and carefully looking for holes.

    • Once a week we receive an unsolicited local newspaper and ad flyers that are tossed on the ground, near our mailbox. These papers are delivered rolled and wrapped, if you will, in plastic sleeve-like bags to protect them from outdoor elements. When we reuse plastic grocery sacks (called “1/6 size T-Shirt Bags” by the industry) as wastebasket liners, we line the bottom of them with those “flyer sleeves” we have accumulated over time, effectively blocking any holes the outer grocery sack may have had. This works like a champ! Try it!

  5. I used a solution I saw on YouTube. On either side of my rectangular trashcan (4 gal?) I put the medium sized plastic generic self adhesive hooks (round like a finger, not the large square ones) I get at the dollar tree (4/$1) I adhere them UPSIDE DOWN to the sides of the trash can after determining where the handles will be pulled taut for the bag to set evenly in the can. It works really well, just pull down on bag handles and lift them over the hooks to remove, no fumbling with bands or trying to find a bread tie (that you just KNOW you set down right beside you!). Over a year and they’ve not come off yet, and the hooks are medium sized plastic and holds the handles well, ensuring the bag stays over the sides of the can. Wish I could show you, but maybe I explained it well enough, if you’re not sure, search hacks on YouTube I’m sure you’ll find it.

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