Sharing a Green Bin

I hit on a big eureka moment at the end of July.  And it’s still working!

A few people (like one of my neighbours) that I’ve talked with about the green bin think it’s a nice idea and all, but they live alone and don’t think they produce enough green bin-type waste to make it worthwhile to have one.  Sound familiar?  So they just throw it in the garbage.

I’ve heard of people who live in stacked townhouses who are in a similar situation, so they share a green bin among a few households. 

I have a standard full-size green bin (as opposed to the half-size models that are also available), and now that the City collects green bin materials every week, it’s usually only about half-full.

Back in late July, I talked to one of my neighbours about this–as we were already outside chatting about something else already–and welcomed her to put her compostable waste into my green bin.  I listed the things that can go into the green bin.

I want to avoid having to clean out a potentially gross green bin with someone else’s compostables, so the I told her about wrapping compostables in paper or putting them in a cardboard box (especially for messier food waste).  This summer, I put everything in a paper leaf and yard waste bag (tip:  they cost less than the ones designed for the green bin) inside the green bin.  So even if she doesn’t wrap stuff properly, the big brown bag will help limit mess.

She basically politely nodded and said yes…just to humour me? 

I store my green bin in the back yard;  that week, I started storing it in a corner of my yard where my neighbour can easily access it.

The big eureka moment was when I noticed that she had put some stuff in the green bin.  Great! 

That was a few months ago.  My neighbour continues to share my green bin, and so far, it’s worked out well–she has even brought it back from the road for me.  I think the key things that make it work is that I store it in the same place (the bin is predictably available), and she makes sure that stuff she puts in the green bin isn’t a dripping mess or it’s wrapped properly.

With the upcoming switch to bi-weekly residual garbage pickup, there’s been a lot of information floating around about what can go into the green bin, so that has helped too.  And it’s an extra incentive to start using the green bin.

What do you do if don’t generate very much compostable waste?

the green bin: next generation composting

Is composting a new old thing or an old new thing?

A great-great aunt of mine, who was something of an expert in home economics, reportedly said that throwing food scraps into the garbage is the craziest thing city folk do:  it’s a waste.  So says my octogenarian grandma who never stopped composting when she moved into the city.  Compost feeds her garden, and you should see the flowers, fruits and vegetables she grows.

For most of us though, recycling compostable material is some new wave thing.

I’ve been lucky to have had decades to warm up to the municipal Green Bin program. 

When I was a kid, we had a big garden and a compost bin of some sort that we used in the summer.  I got used to the idea of putting fruit and vegetable scraps and peelings into a separate container (with no lid…let’s not get too fancy, here) and then emptying it in the back yard.

It was an easy way to recycle, but it had its limitations.  Certain food wastes like meat scraps and bones can attract pests in a regular back yard composter, so we didn’t compost that stuff.

When I heard about the City of Ottawa’s Green Bin program, which was still in its pilot phase, I thought it would be great because it enables us to recycle a lot more than the shorter list of things that can go in the backyard composter.

Composting, like breastfeeding, was old is but is new again.  We have this opportunity to turn waste into a resource.  Today, Orgaworld, the company that processes the Green Bin contents, sells its product–compost–to farms.  I think my great-great aunt would have approved.

Now the question is, how do you make it convenient to get the material to the green bin week after week?