You can get the cat litter or diaper genie units for ten bucks or next to nothing at a thrift store. Then you realize those proprietary refills are hugely expensive (at the time of this posting, you can get a 2-pack for $15). Whaaa?! The refills are simply a continuous tube of plastic used like a sausage casing for a diaper kielbasa. It probably costs the manufacturer fractions of a penny per linear foot.
If there's anything we can discard in a repurposed bag, it's poop. And then manufacturers list capacity in diapers, not in inches, feet, or meters. What length of bag is meant by "270 diapers?" Maddening!
I've seen multiple suggestions about using generic trash bags instead of the proprietary cartridges, but what I really wanted was a way to make DIY continuous plastic tube, just like the refills from the manufacturer.
With this simple hack, I made the equivalent to a store-bought refill cartridge for pennies and in 15 minutes' time.
This was my first post, and I apologize for not including photos at first. I've since added photos.
Step 1: Supplies
- Fusible plastic bags
(it turns out that we had a box of trash can liners saved from a closure of a retail store but you can also use grocery store bags)
- A food vacuum sealer, the kind that allows you to vacuum-seal and freeze all those blackberries from the garden
- Of course you'll also need a litter genie or diaper genie, and the used empty cartridge that it comes with
Step 2: Know the Dimensions
Measure your genie unit so that you know how wide you need to make the tube. Our litter genie is about 30" around. You need to make your kielbasa casing, or the final continuous tube, about 15" wide when flat. You can go wider, but it will just be excess bag material to deal with.
Step 3: Fire Up Your Bag Sealer
Do a test. You don't want to cut the bottoms off of ten bags only to discover your sealer won't work with your bags. Test different sealing times, since the bag material we're using for this probably isn't the same stuff you use for sealing your food. No stopwatch needed, just a steady count in your head will do. I've used both high density polyethylene bags, or HDPE (the crinkly kind, like a plastic grocery bag) as well as low density, or LDPE bags (softer material, like a fold-top plastic sandwich bag).
Step 4: Prepare Your Bags
Cut off the bottoms (and handles, if any) of your repurposed bags so that you have 1 short tube per original bag. If your bag width is acceptable as is, you lucked out.
If the original bag is way wider than you need, you also lucked out because with marginally more work, you may be able to get 2 tubes out of each original bag (as shown in the photo). For example, if you need a flattened tube of 15" and the original bag makes a flattened tube of 32", you can make 2 tubes out of each original bag - just seal each half into its own tube. You can even use a flat sheet of plastic. Just use the sealer to make tubes of the right width for your genie.
Step 5: Join the Sections to Make a Long Continuous Tube
Line up 2 tubes and fuse them together, going all the way around the circular opening. For good measure, give the fused joint a gentle test, or seal the section again. You should have one tube that is now double the length of the original bag.
Just keep joining more sections together until you get the length of continuous tube you want. The manufacturer's litter genie refills are 14' in length, but you can make your any length you want, provided you can stuff it into an empty cartridge.
Step 6: Stuff Your Continuous Tube Into the Empty Cartridge and Use As You Would Normally
Simply re-use the manufacturer's cartridge by gathering up the tube and stuffing it into an empty cartridge. Install the cartridge into the genie as you would normally. When you empty the genie, you will have used litter inside the tube, all of it resting inside the bottom half of the genie (as if using the pricey manufacturer's refill).
Extra tip: Consider lining the bottom of the genie with several plastic grocery bags, as if it was a wastepaper basket. This way, if you accidentally tear the tube while using the genie, the contents will fall into the liner bag (and you won't have to dig used litter out of the bottom and/or haul the whole genie outside to hose it out). And it's not a bad idea to have a second layer between the used litter and your carpeted floor as you transport the poopy-bag to the trashcan outside. Just peel off the first layer of liner (and the full tube will be inside it) when emptying the genie. Remember: a broken bag of used kitty-litter = a very sad occasion.
You saved yourself enough dollars to have a modest lunch, you got another use of stuff you had lying around anyway that was probably going into the landfill, plus you saved the planet the cost of making and shipping those proprietary refills to your local big-box store. Great work!