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My Dirty Little Secret




Yup. I said it.

When the City of Ottawa first rolled out the green bin program, the twitterverse was full of tweets along the lines of, “Yay, composting is here!” and, “It’s about time!” 

My tweet would have been more along the line of “Oh, c&*p!”

I know, I know. It’s good for the environment. Our landfills are overflowing. We’re saving the planet, one orange peel at a time. For the record, I do compost. (So please don’t send the compost police after me!) 

I just don’t like having rotting garbage sitting around on my countertop and having to manage all these different types of waste.

I’m a semi-reformed neat freak, and keep in mind that the only reason I’m even semi-reformed is because I have two kids, and all the stuff/mess that comes with them, with no time anymore to meet the high standards I once aspired to. Dealing with compost is almost more than I can take. 

I dread opening the lid of an almost-full bin, not knowing what the smell will be like. 

I refuse to leave the so-called “countertop” bin sitting on my countertop. I really, really don’t want to look at it all day.

As an engineer, I can attest that the countertop bin’s design is somewhat flawed. The lid is a pain to open and close, and the container is too small. There was no way I was dumping garbage into an unlined bin (see neat freak comments above), so some solution had to be found.  At first Hubby and I tried using the City’s instructions to construct an origami liner out of newspaper. Not as easy as they would like you to believe. By the time I had cobbled together a liner that I was satisfied wouldn’t leak, it took up half the space in the bin. And how many people still get newspapers delivered to their door? We’ve gone digital, so Hubby was actually picking up one of the free papers every day to use in the bin - kind of defeated the spirit of composting/recycling, I thought. So we switched to using Bag-To-Earth bags as liners - don’t get me started on the cost, and even the small bags were too big to fit properly into the bin. I ended up cutting off the tops so that they would fit - what a waste! (No pun intended.)

I think this countertop bin design is much better (and as an added bonus, I’m pretty sure that this bin’s inventor is from Ottawa). I like that the newspaper ends that stick out can be bundled over the contents when it’s time to take it out to the green bin, and I like that the lid is easy to lift off and put back into place. We thought about buying one, but I worry that it would still smell, and again there’s a problem if you don’t already get a newpaper delivered to your door…

We eventually ditched the idea of a bin altogether and started using the small Bag-To-Earth bags on their own, hidden in the cupboard under the sink. That was better, but not great. 

One day I decided to put the Bag-To-Earth bag inside our old garbage can - one of those racks that attaches to the inside of the door. Voilà!

The small Bag-To-Earth bags fit nicely inside the plastic garbage bag, which we reuse over and over as long as there aren’t too many spills, and the lid closes to contain the smell. Since we then needed a garbage can, I bought this little number and put it under the sink:

Unfortunately it’s a little too small and we end up lifting the whole lid off every time we need to use it, so I need to buy a bigger model. But at least now it’s easier to compost, and we think twice about throwing anything in the garbage, instead of the other way around. 

I realize that composting is important, but surely I’m not the only one who misses the good old garbage days?

  • P

    We used the city countertop “receptacle” for a few years, and hated every day of it…

    Now, we just use some old carboard boxes (we have 2 kids, so we have many boxes). Once the day / mess is done, it goes straight into the big green bin, and the mess is gone. Down side – still uses countertop room. Upside – the mess is gone right away, but it takes effort to remember to toss it. So far, we compioste more than we ever did with the city issued small receptacle…

  • http://diaryofaturtlehead.wordpress.com/ Lynn

    Hm, this is a really good idea – putting the liner inside a plastic bag, and I like that it’s mounted on the door. We still use the city bin but I keep it under the sink, only pulling it out to scrape up the dinner dishes or when I’m chopping vegetables.

    I also feel strongly about a liner but the bag-to-earth ones are so expensive. I just buy a bag of ordinary brown lunch bags and put two in the bin at a time – I roll down the tops so they fit, then the top can be rolled back up to close it and carry it out to the green bin.

    They can’t handle anything that is really wet – that stuff I dump into a few sheets of newspaper, wrap up, and take out immediately. But it can handle fruit or vegetable peels, uneaten dry foods like crackers, kleenex and napkins, I even put things like tea bags and coffee grounds in there.

  • http://pillowhead.etsy.com Angela

    We use a stainless steel bin/bucket from Lee Valley Tools. We stick 2 sheets of newspaper in to line it, and there’s enough newspaper that sticks out the edges. The lid is just a lift-off-not-attached lid. It’s not as big as the city provided bin, but then it makes us take out the compost at least once every 2 days. The thing I like about stainless steel is that it doesn’t absorb any of the smell. Also, you can use the bucket as a wine cooler if you need to. :)

  • Mike

    Green bin is a huge waste to us taxpayers. We overpaid on a ten year deal (maybe longer) and the stats from cfra say we are not even close to getting our money’s worth. Too many people like me haven’t used it since day one either… Nothing but maggots stories is all I have heard…I’m sure some green lover extremist will reply, but I’ll continue using my garbage can.

  • Kathleen

    I didn’t like the design either. We have simplehuman® 10.5-Gallon Black Slim Step Trash Can. (http://www.crateandbarrel.com/kitchen-and-food/trash-cans/simplehuman-10.5-gallon-black-slim-step-trash-can/s361006) One is for regular non-compost waste and one for compost waste. We put regular garbage bags in the bins. When the compost one is full we transfer to large leaf bag, or lined large compost bags that goes in the garage in the green bin. Then the used garbage bag gets transferred to the garbage bag for bin #1 and compost bin gets a new bag (so it doesn’t keep the smelly one for so long).

    These garbage cans are great because you can step on them to open the lid and lock them for pets and children and smell…AND no bin on your counter ;)

    - Kat

  • Kathleen

    …oh and we have never had problems with maggots ever, fruit flies, nothing. it’s clean doesn’t smell..its what you do with your regular garbage except your SORTING as you go and the transfer to the big paper bags is the only small sacrifice.

    - kat

  • Angele

    No counter space issue for me, we keep the bin beside the garbage can, because you know, it’s garbage, just separated into categories. We rinse it out when we empty it. And I have learned to keep the green bin out of the sun the fun way (Yuck), so now we rinse the bin after every garbage day. I don’t like the smell or the bugs, but I love to see my usual garbage can almost empty because the rotting garbage is doing exactly what it’s supposed to in the green bin.

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