I can’t believe how excited I am about our new Green Bin!

by DaniGirl on January 5, 2010 · 27 comments

in Life in Ottawa

Way back in the day, we used to live in a not-so-nice neighbourhood in Hunt Club and I loved to wander the streets in the much nicer neighbourhood adjacent to ours. They were one of the Ottawa neighbourhoods selected to participate in the first “green bin” composting pilot project, and I couldn’t wait for it to be rolled out to the rest of the city. Seven years later, and I’m maybe just a little bit too excited to start using my shiny new Green Bin this week.

I have always admired the idea of composting, and have always meant to get one of those backyard composters, but I never quite got around to it. I totally support the concept of composting, but the actual maintenance of the composter seemed like a lot of work. I mean, really, it’s a good week month when the grass gets cut, and the gardens run pretty wild, so maintenance of outdoor things is not my strong suit. But separating my compostables and having someone haul them away to make good use of them? I’m all OVER that idea!

When the Green Bin arrived in the fall, I hauled it into the garage and pretty much forgot about it in a “I don’t have to think about this until next year” sort of way. And then suddenly over the holidays it WAS next year, and I started noticing articles in the paper that talked about people using their Green Bins and I checked the Web site and sure enough, the official Green Bin collection starts this week. Yay! See what I mean? Way too excited.

And here’s where I admit, in a twisting-my-toe-in-the-carpet kind of way, that I really do not know anything about composting at all. But the city does make it pretty easy for you. (I’m not being a shill for the city, by the way. For the sake of disclosure, they have sent me a couple of e-mails with information and links, but I haven’t really had time to go through them. This is just me muddling my way through my first Green Bin experience and documenting it for all the Interwebs to enjoy!)

I thought I’d have to go out and get one of those stainless steel countertop buckets that I’d seen in the flyers. I checked the Ottawa Web site and found a User Guide and thought, “It would have been nice if they’d sent me one of these.” And then I kept reading and realized they DID send me one, and they sent one of those little countertop buckets, too, albeit in plastic instead of stainless steel. They were inside the Green Bin when it was delivered back in October, and I’d never even thought to open it! Huh, how about that!

So I set up the little bucket on the counter, and stuck the “what can go in the green bin” sticker to the front of it. I’d picked up some of those paper liners at Loblaws, and so I popped one of those into the countertop bucket and started using it right away.

It took about a day for me to fill it up, so I don’t think we’ll have any issues with odours, as that’s about as often as we change the kitchen garbage bag anyway. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I can compost dryer lint and — I swear, my life is an echo chamber some days — I can even dump the pet hair and other crumbs I collect each day in the little swiffer vac in there.

I’m not sure why some people have been complaining so vociferously about the program. Yes, there has been an additional fee foisted on us, and yes, it’s probably not been handled as well as it could have. But for the average household, the pros far outweigh the cons. I don’t mind the extra $60 or so a year in admin costs, and I don’t mind the extra $4 or so on my grocery bill for bin liners — to me, they’re well worth the price of doing our part for environmental sustainability. I do wish that the bins were collected every week instead of every second week, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it works out this summer.

All in all, I give the city a thumbs-up on the Green Bin program. I still remember when the first recycling programs were implemented, and how I found the switch to bi-weekly paper collection such an inconvenience — and now that’s all second nature. Really, composting through the city couldn’t be easier, and I’m delighted to do my part.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 CynthiaK January 5, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Green bin program has been going for a while now down here in Waterloo and it’s fantastic. So easy. You’ll love it.

BTW, we used to find ourselves in the less desirable part of Hunt Club years ago, too. Of course, we’ve upgraded since but I have some interesting memories of time spent there!

Enjoy the Green Bin-ing!

2 Windex January 5, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Ah Dani I will so resist going on about the program – there is so many things that annoy me that I know I will go into a rant if I even start and I will spare you and your readers – I am not against the program but wow there has to be a more convenient way to do it! Those bins are the most inconvenient things from hanging them, storing them on your counter to my four young children being able to the use them….and as for those bags that don’t fit probably….
Got to stop now…..How quickly I could go on…..

3 _Don January 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm

I too am loving the green bin. My parents have been on the program in southern Ontario for a few years, and I was jealous. I’m so glad its here now. The complaints I have read seem to be petty (sorry Windex, I can’t see the inconvenince of hanging them somewhere – I keep mine under the sink). I don’t buy the bags, I use newsprint. Gawd knows I get enough flyers to cover that. I may only need to put out a garbage bag once a month now. Beauty!

4 colleen January 5, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I used this programme for years in Toronto and loved it. The main difference here as you cannot use the biodegradable green bags which really made compliance so much easier. Cannot understand why the city feels the need to collect our other garbage every week when most of our garbage will now go in the green bin. It should be collected weekly and the other bi-weekly. For those who cannot think where to put the small indoor container, I put mine on top of my kitchen garbage can so it is the first place one would look to dispose of any refuse. Works for us!

5 Alison P January 5, 2010 at 6:17 pm

I was really suprised when we moved to Ottawa 4 years ago that the program wasn’t already in place. Once you get in the habit it is so easy to use and you will be shocked at how little garbage you put out for pick up.

6 Windex January 5, 2010 at 6:22 pm

hahaha No need for apologies Don never said my complaints were not petty πŸ™‚

7 Amber January 5, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I am mucho jealous of your green bin. The cities adjacent to mine have them, but not mine exactly. I do compost already, but often you can put things in a green bin that you can’t put in your backyard composter – like bones or meat or old coffee cups. We’ve done a pretty good job of reducing our waste through recycling and composting, but the food we can’t compost sort of grates on me.

8 A Crafty Mom January 5, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I could have written the exact same post!! Same title and everything πŸ™‚

I commented on Andrea’s blog last week about how shocked I was that so many people were complaining about the program. I am from NS and my parents have been using a green bin for almost TEN years now. They were the very first municipality in the world to implement a green bin program (just wanted to throw a fun fact in!).

We are backyard composters but I am definitely lazy in the winter – it is very far back at the corner of our backyard and I can truly not make it back there when the snow is very deep this time of year. So I am happy to throw it all in the green bin – ours is actually full b/c we started using it a few weeks ago. It is nice to throw the meat, bones, dairy, dryer lint, vacuum canister remains and other nice “junk” in there that we could not add to the backyard composter. So, yes, I am giddy and excited too.

I fear I will be disappointed on Friday when our garbage pick up is scheduled. We live in an older neighbourhood (Woodroffe and Hunt Club) and some of our neighbours have said they will not use the green bin. So disappointing but I guess change is really difficult for some people!

9 Ingrid January 5, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Dani this is a comment from your cousin who is whining about the fact that the sticker doesnt fit on the bucket, blah,blah,blah. So he wants to know how you managed it ( I suggested he cut the french part off and it now fits).

10 DaniGirl January 5, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I’m laughing, Ingrid, because I had a paragraph about how I cut the English part of the sticker out and stuck it on the bin, but I edited it out thinking I was getting a little too fixated on the details. But yes, that’s exactly what I did!

(More laughing: captcha = “protest onions” Yes, I imagine the onions do start to protest after a few days, but they’ll be in the garage by then!)

11 Finola January 5, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Only every two weeks? Ack, really??

12 Nat January 5, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Did you get a different not-so ugly countertop bin where the bags fit into it? Mine don’t. We decided to go for the origami (sp?) newspaper liners. Main advantage (1) they fit and (2) the cost of one newspaper is lot less than the bags that don’t fit.

We also decided to keep the backyard composter going because, well, I’m not buying back compost I can create out of food I already paid for once.

We had our first collection this week. Those bags provided by the City — froze in the bottom of the bin… (I had a friend who had a turkey carcass stuck in hers.) You’d think they’d have adopted a system more “winter friendly.”

I think this is a great program and a wonderful idea. I just wish they’d thought through the execution a bit more.

13 Mac and Cheese January 6, 2010 at 8:44 am

My green bin collectors probably dread my house. We have two bins, and one is exclusively dog crap and diapers.

14 Steve January 6, 2010 at 9:33 am

Hey Dani if you like the program so much you can mhave my green bin too! If I use it it will be to store salt, soil, or something for the pool. πŸ™‚

15 Madeleine January 6, 2010 at 10:06 am

I love Toronto’s green bin program, except for the investigative reports suggesting they can’t actually process it all quick enough so some of it is going to landfill after all.

I’m surprised that you can include dryer lint and pet hair. Those are expressly forbidden in our program.

16 Windex January 6, 2010 at 1:05 pm

You know I was talking about the bin to the hubby last night as he is opposed to it big time and he was saying the biggest complaint is why we pay $14 million a year to give it to a company who will make a profit on it – but I am thinking he is missing info from statement – Can anyone fill in the blanks? Are we really given our compost to them for free?

17 smothermother January 6, 2010 at 1:39 pm

I did a little dance when I saw the info booth at my local Loblaws and rushed home to find out all the details. I hugged my grin bin when it arrived in the fall. Yep, literally hugged it. I was so excited to start the program.

I completely don’t understand the people who are complaining and stating that they probably won’t take part. Get your lazy fat head out of your butt! It’s not that complicated and there really is very little inconvinience. The only thing I can see is that the paper bag liners don’t fit. But I really like Nat’s comment and will go with the newspaper oragami liners. Great idea!!

Oh, and it’s pick up every two weeks only in the winter. They will switch to weekly in the Spring-Fall.

Yeah Green Bin!

18 Valerie January 6, 2010 at 3:16 pm

we have a pretty (well, not ugly) stainless steel bin from Lee Valley for the counter. I don’t get a big paper so can’t do the origami liner, but just putting a few sheets of my local paper into the bottom solves the problem of how much grosser it is with meat and cereal (milk) going into it. The city container I keep downstairs to scoop cat litter into – the filter seems to work well for the smell.

My biggest complaint is that I forgot to dump some leaves or paper into the bottom of my green bin and the bottom half froze into place. I’d already started an overflow bin since I started collecting too soon, so once transferred, my Green Bin is once again full with another two weeks to wait! I should fill one of my neighbours’ bins, since there were very few put out on Tuesday.

captcha: described lousiest πŸ™‚

19 UberGeek January 6, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Windex and I are on the same page….

Mind you I have a garborator so all my organics, sans diapers and kitty litter go down there already.

My biggest concern, the smell and the maggots and flies come spring/summer.

We were using ours prior to Jan 4th ( my wife is pro-green bin) and during the Christmas thaw, our garage started to stink. So I am unsure what the organics arer going to smell like in August.

20 coffeewithjulie January 6, 2010 at 7:24 pm

really starting to worry about you now Dani. first the swiffer vacuum and now the green bins. πŸ˜‰

21 DeuxHirondelles January 7, 2010 at 10:07 am

I fully share your enthusiasm: http://www.deuxhirondelles.ca/2009/09/city-news-and-whats-planned-for-next.html

I began putting things aside for our Green Bin when I heard we would be getting one in late September. I perused the City’s website for hints and tips, and within a minute of having ours, it had been used. It wasn’t until later that I saw the ‘to prevent sticking in freezing temps’ tips…WHY could they not have made that info available on their website??? It was a very yuckky job tipping all the gushy stuff out onto several layers of newspaper on the lawn, and trying to get it all back into the bin after I had put a bunch of balled-up newspaper at the bottom. I still don’t know if it worked because we missed Monday’s pickup.

I used the freebie liners they sent with the bin, but now use the origami-folded newspaper ones, and find they work well, even though, being just the two of us, they can last a few days.

22 Valerie January 7, 2010 at 11:32 am

For the smell (Ubergreek), save some leaves in the fall (I know, too late now) and put a layer on top after you dump your bucket of slop in. I’ve been doing that in the backyard for years and it seems to work.

23 James January 7, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I wish we had something like that here in Austin. We finally got single-stream recycling a year ago, but I love the green bin idea. Composting anything other than leaves and grass down here just draws rats. Which draw rattlesnakes.

24 Rebecca January 8, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Love it! the tax doesn’t bother me, so happy we have it

25 Natalie @YMCbuzz January 9, 2010 at 12:53 am

RT @bitofmomsense #Ottawa, excellent post by @danigirl re: the new @GreenBinOttawa – we've been happily using ours too! http://bit.ly/59IxOc

26 DaniGirl January 9, 2010 at 6:50 am

Windex, I e-mailed your question to the PR firm that’s helping with the Green Bin program, and the City responded. See this post: http://danigirl.ca/blog/2010/01/08/the-city-responds-to-your-question-about-composting/

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