So, it’s January, and you have to recycle your food waste. Are you ready (if you weren’t doing it already)?

We’ve had three months’ warning (actually longer, but until September, it was just a line somewhere in a long-range plan), and now, it’s time. In case you missed the Christmastime publicity blitz in citywide media … as the holiday season ends, we’re pointing to the new recycling rules – food waste goes in the yard-waste bin (if you haven’t been putting it there already). And that doesn’t just mean fruit/vegetable scraps. From the city’s “what do I do with THIS?” flyer:

As noted last fall, while the new rules are in effect as of yesterday, this is the start of a six-month ramp-up period, to give everyone a chance to get used to it and figure out how to do it. And even when enforcement starts in July, this isn’t set up as a moneymaker for the city – the residential fine is a buck, for example. The point is that the city is hoping to get to its goal of recycling 60 percent of the waste stream. You’ll be considered to be in compliance if you have less than “10% recyclables or food waste” in your trash can. To get them from kitchen to bin, you can use paper or compostable bags, or get a covered compost pail to keep in the kitchen.

SIDE NOTE – SO WHAT ABOUT THE IN-SINK DISPOSER? In previous discussions, some have declared they’ll just keep using this rather than diverting food waste to the yard-waste bin. We’ve looked around for info on that; general consensus (in reports such as this) seems to be, while it’s greener than just throwing food waste in the trash, it’s not as green as composting. And best thing of all is to just figure out how to waste less food, period.

79 Replies to "So, it's January, and you have to recycle your food waste. Are you ready (if you weren't doing it already)?"

  • HelperMonkey January 2, 2015 (12:01 pm)

    West Seattle First World Problem: my Proletariat Pizza box is too big to fit in the yard waste container.

  • Oakley34 January 2, 2015 (12:07 pm)

    I am surprised to see here that ‘no animal waste’ is part as well, as’Scoop the Poop’ (and deposit it in the trash) is #1 on the list of actions to take to help combat the “Tox-Ick Monster” in Puget Sound . Should all owners now be buying non plastic, compostable bags for our dogs waste? Will this shift contribute to the ick in Puget Sound or is composting the waste as safe as trashing it as far as the sound is concerned?

  • Nora January 2, 2015 (12:42 pm)

    Bertha’s stuck 100+ feet under the viaduct, Pioneer Square is sinking, Mercer is STILL a mess, you don’t want to know how old the water infrastructure in this town is, and the city council has nothing better to do with city and SPU resources (translation: tax dollars) than to police our composting habits, or lack thereof? Does anyone find this as farcical as I do?

  • MSW January 2, 2015 (12:58 pm)

    More micro managing of our lives. Isn’t most of the stuff we throw out originally came from or out of the ground. So much for the volunteering with recycling. Now it’s “you will be punished”. Sounds like a bunch of environmental puritans at work in this city.

  • jwright January 2, 2015 (1:04 pm)

    No, Nora, I don’t. I am glad the Council is still concerned about keeping Seattle livable. Composting is sustainable; burying stuff in landfills is not. And your alarmist hyperbole implies that the Council is ignoring other issues to address this, which we all know is ridiculous.

  • jwright January 2, 2015 (1:07 pm)

    Oakley34, Animal waste still goes in garbage.

  • Bel Grace January 2, 2015 (1:09 pm)

    No dog poop in the compost, please! It remains trash. As for garbage disposals, ask the crew at SPU what they think of the problems they cause! Let’s be thankful we have first world problems. Happy 2015 West Seattle!

  • Oakley34 January 2, 2015 (1:16 pm)

    Wow I’m dumb…read the graphic wrong. Well, that’s good.

  • Peter January 2, 2015 (1:25 pm)

    It absolutely amazes me how some people see composting as either an insurmountable obstacle or some king of totalitarian government tyranny. Please get a grip on reality, people.

    • WSB January 2, 2015 (1:41 pm)

      While inveterate recyclers of everything else, we have been slow to adopt food-waste recycling, but immediately after writing this, during a shopping trip, we picked up a box of Bio Bags, and are going to give it a go. We’ve been working on waste reduction but some things – cabbage cores, the very bottom of root vegetables/onions/garlic/squashes/etc. – not sure what else can be done. (Master recycler/composters with advice? Please share it!) – TR

  • Jason January 2, 2015 (1:44 pm)

    I have a worm bin for most of this stuff – makes great compost to grow more food in, highly recommend.

  • flimflam January 2, 2015 (2:29 pm)

    I can’t believe all the grousing over this. all homes have a yard waste bin already, what is the big deal? I keep a tuperwear container near my sink and when cleaning up or cooking simply put the scraps, etc in and then -OMG!- walk outside at some point and empty it into the yard waste bin. the horror.

  • Nora January 2, 2015 (2:32 pm)

    Jwright, I’ll take your word for it. I have neither the time to attend city council meetings, nor the resources to stream the recordings, so the only change that I can attest to since I’ve lived in this city has been a positive one to the bottom line on my property tax bill, and that’s before any increase in assessed value.

    I’m with MSW. Give us positive reinforcement. Lower our bills if we meet the subjective threshold, don’t increase them if we fail to do so. That which we call a tax by any other name would cost as much.

  • ehyi January 2, 2015 (2:53 pm)

    Also just begun – free fluorescent light recycling:

  • West Seattle Hipster January 2, 2015 (3:05 pm)

    + 1 for Nora.


    I believe folks should be composting, but our elected city council seems to have it’s priorities mixed again as usual. Seattle has growing infrastructure needs that are being ignored and neglected while focusing on feel good initiatives.


    What accomplishments can the city council or mayor take credit for that did not involve raising taxes on the middle class?

  • dsa January 2, 2015 (3:08 pm)

    I thought it started years ago.

  • dcn January 2, 2015 (3:09 pm)

    I use dog food tupperware-type containers I got at Target and I line them with bio bags (they are just the right size for the bags). They have hinged snap tight lids, which keeps any odor to a minimum (unlike those more expensive silver compost bins with the filters in the top–I found keeping the smell out of those to be nearly impossible). The dog food container fits nicely under my sink, where I have another one for trash, and a small waste basket for recycling. It’s nice since I can compost paper napkins, bones, cheese rinds, and other things you can’t put in a home compost bin. I even wipe my occasional extra greasy frying pan with a paper towel before washing it, so I don’t put grease down my drains, and then throw the greasy paper towels in the compost.
    I don’t find it to be any harder than throwing things in the regular trash, and I put almost no solids down my drain (waste water people recommend using the disposer at a minimum). I only have a mini-can for trash, which I rarely fill more than half-way, and it doesn’t stink, since there’s no food waste in there. The only hassle is two waste containers instead of one, but each one need emptying only half as often, so it amounts to the same amount of time spent taking out the trash.

  • cj January 2, 2015 (3:11 pm)

    I don’t honestly think they have considered everyone’s living situation. Many multifamily buildings with insecure receptacles because the building owners don’t want to spend the money. So who gets the citation and who pays for it? My rent goes up every year and we still have a free for all garbage and recycling set up close to multiple public sites, a situation that the tenants have no control over.

  • onion January 2, 2015 (3:27 pm)

    I have to agree about garbage disposals causing more trouble than they are worth. I haven’t had one for 15 years and since then I have never had a kitchen drain problem.

    I’ve been doing most everything on the graphic anyway, so this “change” should not be a big deal. I might have questions about paper towels that have been used to wipe up paint or chemicals, and about different types of cardboard takeout containers. But in those instances I just use common sense.

    As for the “cost reductions” for recycling that someone asked about, I believe the argument is that we avoid larger rate hikes by recycling and composting, due to the more rapidly increasing cost of permanent garbage landfills.

    Of course think of the fine legacy our landfills provide to archeologists 1000 years into the future.

  • justme January 2, 2015 (3:33 pm)


    Fantastic advice!! I’m anxious to scrap, I mean recycle, my tin compost container for a better use like you. I find that the fruit flies live inside the little holes under the lid and multiply like crazy!

    Your ideas are just great, thank you! Are the bio bags you use 13 gallon?

  • sc January 2, 2015 (4:24 pm)

    We vacationed in a cottage on the Scottish Island of Eigg in the Hebrides for a week. At the end of our stay, being from recycling Seattle, we had everything sorted properly for disposal. When we asked where to put our garbage, empty plastic bottles, aluminum cans, paper etc. they told us “put it all in the burn barrel!” We could not believe it but were told they have no garbage disposal on the island. We did put the paper,cans and garbage in the burn barrel but took the plastic bottles back on the ferry to the mainland. It was just too ingrained in us that it was wrong to burn plastic!

  • JW January 2, 2015 (4:45 pm)

    So what happens when you put this stuff (food waste) at the curb for pick up and when the rats start to come out, How is the city going to handle that? You can’t tell me they have rat proof containers etc, even racoons and other critters are going to break into them.

    • WSB January 2, 2015 (5:22 pm)

      JW, regarding “rats coming out” – This kind of recycling has been allowed for quite some time and no rat problems have been reported. Maybe thanks to our local coyotes (whose diet primarily consists of small rodents), who knows. – TR

  • HappyOnAlki January 2, 2015 (4:51 pm)

    Friends in Germany pay for garbage pickup by the pound — you can bet they compost and recycle! I’d be happy to see that system here. (No, I can’t imagine how you set it up; I just like the idea.)

  • seattletimebandit January 2, 2015 (4:57 pm)

    @DCN (and everyone else reading this) – Note that kitchen grease is not allowed in the food waste bin (it says so at the bottom of the flyer). It really doesn’t compost well, ’cause you know, it’s grease. But A+ for effort.

  • dcn January 2, 2015 (5:26 pm)

    I use the 3 gallon bio bags–the ones you can get at Costco. The dog food container is pretty small: Boots and Barkley brand for 10 pound food storage–12.75 quarts, I think. I don’t have a lot of clearance under my sink, and these fit. By the time I fill up a 3 gallon bag, I’m ready to move it to the yard waste so it doesn’t get too stinky when the lid is open. says they are $10. I also got fruit flies in the compost bins with the filters.

  • sc January 2, 2015 (5:35 pm)

    Our small compost bin was on our front porch when I heard it being “rattled”. I looked out the window and saw a raccoon trying to manhandle it down the stairs! I chased the raccoon away and attached a bungee cord around the bin and the porch railing and the problem was solved!

    • WSB January 2, 2015 (5:37 pm)

      I can imagine that. “Our” raccoons have managed to knock a brick off the top of our standard-size trash container. We had to deploy bungees after that.

  • Nora January 2, 2015 (5:52 pm)

    So why will we be fined for compostables in the trash, but not trash in the compost?

  • Eileen January 2, 2015 (6:04 pm)

    We’ve been separating for at least 8 years and have had no rat, racoon problems. We started with a second smaller flip top trash can and have move up to a 13 gallon trash can inside for food waste. We find we have much more food wash trash and recycling than regular garbage now.

  • Civik January 2, 2015 (6:30 pm)

    Tracy, be sure to take the compost bags out daily, they are terrible if any moisture gets on them. Totally permeable and leave the little bin disgusting.

    • WSB January 2, 2015 (6:34 pm)

      Should find that out soon enough. Thanks!

  • ChefJoe January 2, 2015 (6:36 pm)

    @JW, I hope more people send their food scraps off to SPU rather than compost at home. Not sure where the neighborhood food source is, exactly, but I have raccoons running through my yard every night and they have made a latrine next to my garage.

    City won’t “catch” them, I’m not inclined to take hunter’s education and buy a license so I can legally trap/dispatch them, and I’m not about to “release” them on anyone else.

  • justducky January 2, 2015 (6:53 pm)

    For food recycling/compost, we toss in coffee grounds (when I have enough in the garden), tea bags, bones, some take-out boxes-the ones pressed from paper pulp (marination ma-kai uses them), fruit cores/peels/pits, paper plates-non coated, paper towels, used Kleenex, wood toothpicks/skewers, etc. Just read the flyer, it is helpful.
    For my 2 person, 3 pet household, we get by with the smallest mini can and rarely fill it every week.
    I look at the composting as a way to help keep regular garbage costs down, I wish the city had a bi-weekly garbage pick-up option.

  • dsa January 2, 2015 (7:13 pm)

    So we have been doing this since it began. At first I was worried about the easier access to food spoils for the racoons, but that got quickly solved and have not seen any of that problem since. What we do is separate animal and vegetable type waste. Vegetable type waste gets saved in the green bio disposable bags under the sink as have been discussed until needed to be moved to the outdoor can.
    The rest of it is animal, fish, ect waste which ends up in a small plastic bag and gets, ready for it?…saved in the freezer. It’s clean when it went in, no reason not to store it there. During the week it hardly ever makes a gallon’s worth of size. And the slick thing is that it can go in the clean green can the night before and the racoons will not get it out. Probably not even know it’s there.

  • Jeremy January 2, 2015 (7:21 pm)

    Re “cabbage cores, the very bottom of root vegetables/onions/garlic/squashes/etc.,” one nice trick is to stick all of this in a container or resealable plastic bag in the freezer. When the container/bag is full, cover the scraps with water in a stock-pot, add a bay leaf and 1/4 c of salt, bring to a boil, cover and then turn down to a simmer. Let it simmer for an hour (or more for stronger), drain the veggie scraps, and you’ve got a nice, easy, low-cost “stock.” You can use it as the base for a soup, or freeze it in ice-trays and use the cubes as extra flavor when you’re cooking. The spent scraps can be composted/green binned as usual.

    Of course, no compost discussion is complete without the excellent resources provided by Seattle Tilth:

  • always been curious January 2, 2015 (7:53 pm)

    I don’t know. We’ve been using our compost bin effectively and animal free for about 10 years now. Have you guys NEVER used it for food scraps before? that boggles my mind, honestly. It’s actually kinda easier. We empty our kitchen trash can once a week. It doesn’t smell. we usually keep food trash in a container, tupperware, the most recent plastic clamshell of greens, a metal bowl, etc. It gets emptied outside at the end of the each and every day.

    anyway, tonight I cut my toenails. I usually put them in the compost. Should I have been puttin them in the garbage all this time, or will I get fined if i put them in the garbage? I REALLY MUST KNOW!!! thanks guys

  • dcn January 2, 2015 (8:03 pm)

    @Seattletimebandit, Thanks for letting me know. It’s hard to tell from the flier. I do not put straight grease into the compost (i.e. any that can be poured out of a pan), just greasy paper towels. I figured that since greasy pizza boxes are OK, greasy paper towels would be OK too. But maybe not. I’ll toss them from now on. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • Ether January 2, 2015 (8:59 pm)

    So, with this are we getting cut rates at increasing the size of our yard waste bins? Because as someone else pointed out- pizza boxes and such don’t fit into the smaller bins but food waste bins are still something you pay for based on size.

    I’d also like to mention for everyone saying “just walk it out to your bin every day, how hard is that?” for some of us who are less-than-abled, that’s actually very hard.

  • For Instance January 2, 2015 (10:02 pm)

    No problem with composting in our house. We’ve done it for years. But definitely annoyed with the thought of the city analyzing my garbage. Last week for instance our poor dog was vomiting blood for a week. We used a lot of paper towels that we put in the garbage (you’re welcome). Now if they saw paper towels in the garbage that looked like they’d soaked up cranberry juice and were 25% of garbage we’d be fined. The people who pick up our trash deserve better than dealing with that and I have better things to spend my time on than calling the city to clarify that it was actually dog blood. And yes, after some expert vet care the dog is healthy again…

  • backtocommonsense? January 2, 2015 (11:45 pm)

    @For Instance.
    So sorry about your dog – really glad she/he is better. You’ve had a tough week too. And you sound like a veteran composter, so…thank you. Not to judge, just really, don’t you think your ‘For Instance’ is really more of a ‘In the Unlikely Event Something Like this Happens’ ? I would think a simple quick note for your pickup person, taped to your trash lid on pickup day, would be welcome and enough.

    What I am more concerned about are apartment buildings (don’t have to have yard waste pickup – hope they are now required to offer compost pickup for their renters – our landlord wouldn’t provide a few years ago, even for those who were asking/willing to pay for it) And, whoa – how about the businesses that have us “separate”, then they throw everything together into the trash dumpster? I watched an employee at a local McDonalds do this, and confirmed with him that this was indeed the practice (many, many times a day.) Costco food court? Similar. Really, it’s because we customers contaminate the separations. Because it is difficult figuring out, for me and my child equally, unless the business SHOWS US SPECIFICALLY with the actual items they use. Fabulous Exception? Taco Time near the WSBridge – purposeful compostable EV-ERY-THING (i’d say, >90% by volume.) I try to support their leadership with our patronage every chance I get (…. and wish more would hurry up and follow!) Does anyone know – does this new law apply to businesses and apartment buildings, as well?

  • Omri January 3, 2015 (7:11 am)

    To all new composters (and existing ones, too), I highly recommend Bag to Nature bags rather than Bio Bags. They last much longer and don’t have any trouble with moisture. I often go two weeks between changing our household’s bag, if it’s not full on collection day – these bags handle it just fine.

    Target carries a 100 bag box on their website for a mere $15 but seems to be out right now. They used to have the 20 bag pack in stores but sadly supplanted it with BioBag. They can still be found on Amazon and other places – here’s a link to one of the better prices I’ve seen for it recently:

  • Omri January 3, 2015 (7:40 am)

    Better yet, here’s the manufacturer’s site for the full Bag to Nature range:

  • Mr Elliott January 3, 2015 (8:03 am)

    As I’m reading through these comments I have to stifle my laughter for fear of waking up my husband. We’re vegetarians and we’ve been composting all our food waste for as long as I can remember. I was expecting the gripes of property tax bills in these comments, but so many of you make it sound like separating food waste is the most taxing responsibility of your day. How ever did we advance as a race with such arduous labor?

  • Sea town January 3, 2015 (8:15 am)

    When did the vote to turn the garbage man into a police force happen?
    I missed that vote… Wait there was no vote…Seattle city counsel person Sally Bagshaw decided it was a good idea to so this.
    I am not happy about this. I already pay for a garbage can, a food/yard waste can and a recycle can.
    Rather than a campaign where they use PR to get us to do more…they are setting up a system that will fine us…now it’s a dollar BUT I guarentee those idiots on the city counsel will increase this cost.
    Also have garbage people looking through my garbage with the police power to ticket me really pissese me off and it should piss the garbage people off too.
    Who will be able to ticket us, the citizens of this city whose make it viable? Baristas, grocery store clerks, taxi drivers???
    Lets ticket Sally B and get her out of here next vote or she might just turn our city into a police state…and all you people who are ok with this good for you but don’t push it on those of us who think this idea foolish.

  • Dreg January 3, 2015 (8:16 am)

    I won’t pay unless there is a system of recourse where I can prove my innocence…

  • Community Member January 3, 2015 (10:33 am)

    The big issue driving this is that it costs $50/ton to dispose of waste in a landfill, but only $25/ton to send the waste to a composter. The landfill is more expensive because of EPA regulations.
    @Justducky: used kleenex are trash, as are diapers, dog waste, blood, vomit; Seattle plans to add these bio-waste to composting in a few years, but the facilities are not there yet.
    Here’s a method that works for us: We have plain brown paper grocery bags in the bathroom and in the kitchen to collect dry compostables such as paper towels, paper napkins, empty takeout boxes. Moist waste such as coffee grounds are placed on top of the paper towels.
    Usually there’s more paper waste than wet waste, so the paper bag is sufficient, and doesn’t soak through. But if the bag has gotten soggy, I slide a frying pan under the paper bag to transport it to the yard waste bin. No special composting containers or liners are needed. This system handles about 95% of our compostable waste.
    For those worried about flies, raccoons, etc, how is the yard waste bin different from the trash bin? Other than the nuissance of the extra space required, how is a yard waste container in the kitchen different from a regular trash container?

  • Rebecca January 3, 2015 (12:02 pm)

    Fun fact: in the state of Washington, you need a warrant to open someones garbage and search it. This law can’t be legally enforced the way they plan to do it. Yes, food composting is easy and yes, it’s lazy of me to throw it in the trash. I’m not a good Seattle hippie–don’t tell anyone but I don’t even have chickens or own a Subaru. I’m not even from California! But I also don’t have room for a bin of rotting food on my counter. Bring on the $1 fine! I can’t wait to read the warrant :-)

  • Eileen January 3, 2015 (12:50 pm)

    In the FAQ from SPU:
    As of July 1, 2015 all commercial, single

    family and multi

    garbage containers that would be found to contain more than
    10 percent recyclables or food waste by volume would face
    penalties of Seattle municipal code.

    family properties whose garbage contains more than
    more than 10 percent recyclables or food waste by volume
    would receive a notice on their garbage container and a $1 fine
    would be levied on their bi

    monthly garbage bill.

    It’s located here:
    They are pretty lenient allowing up to 10% in the garbage. No warrant required. Is it really that hard? Who says you have to be a hippie to have rotting food in a yardwaste container next to the other rotting not-yardwaste items in your trash?

  • Matt January 3, 2015 (1:43 pm)

    In this country, we are guaranteed freedom of religion, freedom of speech. freedom etc, etc, etc.

    But in Seattle, apparently we are not guaranteed the freedom to dispose of our garbage for fear of making a mistake. The garbage police are out to get us. What is next? Sewer police? Do I need to tell my son that he needs to be a little more careful on the potty because he might be breaking a rule made by our elected officials??? Will SPU be providing me another bin labeled “I wasn’t really sure”? It is no wonder that our taxes are going up because we have people getting paid to sit around a table and come up with this nonsense. I wonder if their garbage is picked through after their free tax payer lunch. We pay a lot of money in seattle for public services. I am very diligent about what I recycle, what I throw out and what I put into clean green. Because we pay, we are the customer. SPU and the city officials can start telling us what we can place in which bin once the service is free. We live in Seattle, not China. We need a change in leadership if this is the direction our current leadership is headed.

  • Lura Ercolano January 3, 2015 (3:07 pm)

    @ Matt – The “I wasn’t really sure” bin made me smile.
    @Rebecca – there is a big legal difference between searches that collect evidence of a crime and visual observations that lead to a fee. The garbage collectors are not going to charge you with a crime.
    From the Seattle Times, December 22:
    “Michael Gerig, operations supervisor for Recology CleanScapes, said the ordinance won’t turn his drivers into garbage cops.

    They won’t rip open bags to check their contents. They won’t meticulously measure what’s inside or engage in debates with utility customers.

    But as they toss a can’s contents into the truck, they’ll pay attention to what they do see. And if it appears that more than 10 percent of a trash-can’s contents are either food waste or recyclables, they’ll leave a tag telling of the infraction. Seattle Public Utilities will be notified.”

  • sc January 3, 2015 (3:08 pm)

    @ Rebecca
    Once you put your bin out on the curb you have “no expectation of privacy” so no “warrant” is needed!

  • datamuse January 3, 2015 (3:23 pm)

    52 comments and no one’s referenced Alice’s Restaurant yet? I’m shocked.

  • NW January 3, 2015 (6:31 pm)


  • M. January 3, 2015 (7:25 pm)

    No problem here about the City issuing fines for unsorted trash. I use many of my friends’ and neighbors’ yard waste bins. Surprised and saddend at the amount of unsorted trash tossed into the bins. It’s not difficult to sort. Blame yourselves for this action by the City if you have failed to follow the rules.

    Matt, the easy-to-read flyer with big pictures makes sorting simple enough. There are also restrictions as to what you may put down the toilet and drains.

  • comm. January 3, 2015 (8:15 pm)

    Here’s to you ocd garbage, recycle, composter, sorter …you’re one of us, a little different…

  • WestSide45 January 3, 2015 (9:15 pm)

    Once it’s out there you also have no control over anybody else putting whatever they want into your bin. How am I to be expected to control what goes into by little can if it’s on the curb? How can I be found guilty of an infraction? Must we put the can out just as the truck is driving up the street?

  • Community Member January 3, 2015 (11:21 pm)

    I think it really makes a difference whether it is called a “fine” or a “fee.”
    The city page linked to in the article calls it a “fine”. That makes it a penalty that you are assessed because of an infraction. Looking at it that way, I can see why responders are not pleased. As WestSide45 said, anyone could have put the offending material into the can; how can the city find you guilty of an infraction? Sure, that doesn’t feel right.
    But the actual municipal code doesn’t call it a fine. The code calls it an “additional collection fee”. That terminology seems much more reasonable.
    I’m annoyed that the utilities department has seen fit to incorrectly state what is in the code. It’s not a fine.

  • Kevin January 4, 2015 (7:41 am)

    I highly recommend just using a strong, plastic bag like from a clothing store to hold kitchen compostables and not fancy bio bags. To keep the composting from starting inside we keep the bag in our freezer and empty it in our yard bin every few days. No smell. No fruit flies.

  • 2 Much Whine January 4, 2015 (8:48 am)

    So much anxious hand-wringing on this issue. I get the feeling that these are the same folks that thought we’d all perish when they asked us to bring our own e-coli infected shopping bags of death or pay five cents for plastic bags at the grocery store. It’s not a big deal. I suppose these folks are easy to spot, though, as their shirts are slightly pink because they refuse to sort their laundry as well. Must be a “you can’t tell me what to do” gene I don’t have because I find it easy to do and not an issue.

  • heather January 4, 2015 (10:15 am)

    I keep it simple and have been happily composting for years (it’s nice to barely have any garbage) w/o a rodent problem. I reuse the cookie bag from the coffee place or fast food bag or pizza box (there’s always something), fill it up and take it out every few days on my way to the car/bus. On big cooking days I just pile waste into a big bowl and take it out when I’m done cooking. Easy peasy.

    • WSB January 4, 2015 (10:38 am)

      Thanks again to everyone who has shared “here’s how we do it” info. We meantime are still working on Bio Bag #1 and realizing it’s way too big for our household, even in a time period when we have done a fair amount of from-scratch cooking, so we’ll be exploring some of the smaller-container suggestions. Looking last night at an avocado pit, I had a little nostalgia about how my mom “recycled” those – trying to sprout them, partially immersed in water! We lived in much-warmer places, but I still don’t think we ever did wind up with an avocado tree …

  • MSW January 4, 2015 (11:44 am)

    We must be a very rich country to spend this much time, energy, and funds on rotting garbage. I think the people in the Democratic Republic of Congo can only dream about having such a luxury. Makes me shake my head in disgust.

  • comm. January 4, 2015 (9:49 pm)

    Time is money… Not that the Clowncil cares, but the city should provide all essentials, bins and bags for free, or discounts on services.

  • miws January 5, 2015 (7:44 am)

    Looking last night at an avocado pit, I had a little nostalgia about how my mom “recycled” those – trying to sprout them, partially immersed in water!


    I remember that being done in my Guardian’s household during my High School years. As I recall, two or three round toothpicks were jabbed into the sides, to suspend it for the partial immersion in the jar/glass of water. Don’t recall any success either, and I’ve never tried it on my own, as I never buy avocados, since I don’t like them.


    As to countertop compost bins; here’s what I have:


    The thing I like about it, is the plastic, removable, bucket/liner that makes for easy disposal, so I don’t have the added cost of Bio-Bags. Also, it at least gives me a perception that it’s a little more “Green”, without a Bio-Bag needing to decompose, however long that takes.


    I realize that it may not work for everyone, specifically those that don’t have a Bio-Bag in their outdoor cart, or that don’t have their own outdoor compost, and that want to keep the inside of the cart as clean as possible, but it works great for me, as SPU/the Compost Contractor, re-line my apartment complex’s outdoor cart with a Bio-Bag (although, admittedly, that’s a bit hit or miss, with the typical issue of that bag collapsing into the cart.


    My container has a double filter in the lid, (the place that I bought mine from supplied two extra sets, beyond what was in the lid already) and although I admittedly don’t have the best sniffer, I notice no odor, unless I sniff directly over the vent holes in the lid. It’s probably closing in a a year now, within the next couple of months, that I replaced the filters, after nearly a year of having the original ones in.


    A bonus, it that that I think the dang thing is SO cool looking! I’m more function over form, so will generally go with a perhaps not so cool looking item that appears to work better that its cool looking counterpart, but this one covers both bases.


    I discovered this bin at a friend’s place a few years ago, and decided that it would be the one I bought when I got back into my own place, even if it took a month of Ramen eating to finance it! ;-)



  • Rico Maloney January 5, 2015 (9:40 am)

    At our place we are trying to establish a bit of an urban farm, and the composting of our kitchen waste has been a part of that for several years.

    It goes into a pile behind the house, downwind and a bit up in the woods to keep the odor from the neighborhood. We layer yard waste, chicken droppings, and kitchen waste in a pile, turning it with a pitch fork every now and again. It actually took a couple of years before this actually turned out good dirt to use elsewhere.

    Rats or moles seem attracted mainly to the chickens’ feed and their droppings. We use various methods to discourage the vermin population.

    We are winning that battle, big time.

    We have to sort out the animal waste bits from the other compost in the kitchen. Chicken bones and chicken fat are very bad karma when trying to raise chickens nearby. Egg shells, bones from meat, and meat/poultry packaging need to be dealt with separately.

    Are those items what we are supposed to place in the otherwise “clean green?”

    Funny thing. There are relatively few complainers here. Almost everyone has a good idea about how to approach their garbage needs.

    We are open to advice.

  • ELY January 5, 2015 (8:42 pm)

    Yep, we are doing it and it’s great. Been meaning to start composting for a long time but I have more good intentions than time. Now I put all food scraps in a little garbage can with a gree bio-bag and then throw it in the yard waste once a week or so. Easy. And our trash is so much lighter.

  • MAO January 5, 2015 (11:15 pm)

    I am disabled with mobility issues. To help me a neighbor came over once a week and took the garbage/recycling outside for pick-up. With the new rules, the “clean green” will only be able to go out once a week. Can’t wait to set-up “mini-condos” for fruit flies and possibly rodents. A year ago it took weeks to get rid of a fruit fly infestation. Seems like the enviro-police have not looked at the full impact of this new law on ALL citizens.

  • Skyfall January 6, 2015 (1:43 am)

    I was excited a couple years ago when they first began allowing food waste in yard waste bins–I had given up on adding it to my compost pile because I couldn’t keep the raccoons away and was glad to be able to send it to Cedar Grove. So, I merrily began putting melon rinds, banana peels and apple cores in my bin. Imagine my surprise when I realized it wasn’t being emptied! Week after week with rotting, slimy fruit in the bottom of my bin. I rarely have much yard waste–only when I have too much brown to put on my compost pile–and it seems the guys are too lazy to empty it unless it’s brimful of tree branches. What a disappointment. Can I assess a “fee” if they fail to empty my bin?

    • WSB January 6, 2015 (2:27 am)

      Can you get a smaller container? Or, have you called to complain?

  • datamuse January 6, 2015 (2:08 pm)

    That seems weird, Skyfall. Ours always gets emptied, regardless of how much or little is in it. Maybe give them a call?

  • Skyfall January 6, 2015 (7:11 pm)

    I did call about the first missed pick-up and they sent a truck by, but then it kept happening in subsequent weeks, so I gave up. Mind you, this was back when they first began allowing food waste in the bins, so perhaps the drivers weren’t trained yet? I’m giving it another go now–with the renewed focus, perhaps it will be better.

  • bolo January 6, 2015 (11:35 pm)

    A lot of people complaining about being asked to keep their compostable materials out of the landfill. Where do you think your trash goes? It gets sent out on trains every day to Oregon because we have run out of viable landfills locally. The trains burn up plenty of diesel fuel to get there and back. And where will it go after the Oregon landfills fill up? The more we can keep out of that stream the better for all.


    If everybody pitches in a little, we will have achieved something good for our children, for once. Look at it as a minor sacrifice, no reason to get all worked up about it.


    Talking about the children, most of them have no problem with composting, as they realize they will one day inherit this planet we are leaving to them. I was pleased to discover my daughter had initiated a kitchen food waste recycling program at her middle school, self-motivated, without any instigation by her parents…

  • Juan January 7, 2015 (1:34 pm)

    My landlord has a compost in the ground. I don’t have access to a city can for compost. What am I to do with pizza boxes? Thanks.

  • Diana January 8, 2015 (1:57 pm)

    For those who have been asking what if a stranger uses your pail for the wrong trash – this has happened with me on 2 occasions. One resulted in a note left by the recycling guys and the other was extra stuff thrown next to my pails at the last minute which resulted in a $65 charge. I emailed and a nice lady called me back to talk about it. Got the charge removed no problem.

    I live along a popular bus route so folks use my pails all the time. Hasn’t been the end of the world and I’d rather they do that than litter. Some unkind people actually throw their used food containers over my fence into my yard. Ew.

  • miws January 10, 2015 (9:31 am)

    For those still following this, Bartell’s Weekly Ad starting tomorrow, Sunday January 11th shows a few countertop compost containers at a decent markdown, as well as BioBags:



  • Chris January 12, 2015 (9:55 am)

    I live in the frozen tundra ;) (Well, sort of…Canadian prairies) and we compost all year long. Not a problem.

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