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Why garbage bags are no longer relevant… at least for me

I know this seems like an odd thing to share, but in this new world of habit stacking and small changes, this was a big decision. And it totally happened by accident. It also is an amazing representation of how we think we must do something simply because it’s always been done that way.

First let me tell you about an experiment….

Five monkeys were placed in a cage. In this cage was a ladder (ramp) and at the top of it was a banana. I don’t recall if the test used electricity on the ladder, or cold water, but over the course of the first part of the experiment, any monkey who tried to get to the banana was deterred by either the electric shock or the cold water. The first monkey attempted this, was punished and tried to convince the second monkey not to go. Those two monkeys starting using their own method of punishment on the rest of the monkeys until none of them were willing to try for the banana. One by one, each monkey was replaced. The first monkey to enter the second phase of this session attempted to climb the ladder and the other 4 monkeys pulled him down and beat him. The second monkey replaced had the same thing happen. The third monkey, again, beaten. This happened until all of the original five monkeys were no longer in the cage.

It’s important to note that as the monkeys were replaced, none of the new monkeys experienced the electric shock or the cold water. Their fear of a perceived consequence, driven by the experience and the reaction of their new cage mates, prohibited each new monkey from attempting to reach the banana.

Eventually, all the monkeys in the cage were replaced. None of the monkeys attempted to climb the ladder despite never having personally experienced the aversion tactics their predecessors had. The only logical reason for this outcome is “this is the way it’s done around here.”

It’s not to say that the reaction of the first set of monkeys wasn’t valid, or that it wasn’t done out of caring for the naïve new comers, but doing so halted any chance those new monkeys had of getting a fresh and tasty banana. And why? Because that’s what everyone else did.

Now let’s be real, we have something to learn from previous generations! Reinventing the wheel is silly, but not all situations or ideas are as simple as the wheel either. Buck the system. Ask the questions. Dare to be different!

So what does this have to do with garbage bags?

Simply that when you think you need something just because it’s always been the way, ask yourself if it truly serves you at this point in life.

Recycling more and throwing away less is important to me. I could spend money on garbage bags, or I could use the plastic bags I get when I grocery shop. If my goal is to recycle more, than the size of the bags kind of push me into an automatic “I must fill this bag” process and then find things to put into it. Not to mention that I had changed the number of my recycling cans from 1 to 3 and each were over-flowing by the time I took them out each week. Realizing this, it made sense that when I used my last garbage bag – and had just come from the store and forgotten to buy more – that I should not buy more. The bonus of this smaller waste bag: Easier to carry out!

So, next time you think you have to buy garbage bags, or whatever item you’ve just always used, stop. Check in and find out why you need this or that. If it isn’t serving a current purpose, why keep it around?

Much love to all you beautiful souls!


This is also good advice for all that clutter you stare at every day in all your rooms…. Rid yourself of the waste.

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