Saturday, 16 January 2010

Why Sabotage The Green Bin Program

It is clear to me that there are some people that would like to sabotage Ottawa's Green Bin program and I do not understand why. Unfortunately Ottawa City Council has seemed to be an ally, if an unwitting one, to those that would seek to see the program fail.

Ottawa City Council has played into the hands of those that would love to see the program fail - the haters. The worse thing that the City has done was to help perpetrate they myth that the program will cost the city money rather than save money. They did this by proposing to pay for it with a special levy on residential taxes only, and by continuing to emphasize the direct costs of the program without any reference to the savings from the program.

Of course the direct costs are easy to estimate. On the other hand, estimating the costs of finding new landfill sites, if any are available, or alternatively the costs of shipping our garbage who knows where for an indefinite period of time are unknown, but certainly greater than the costs of diverting that garbage into the Green Bin composting program.

But what were taxpayers told. We were told that this is a new program that is going to cost us money. It is as if we were not previously paying to dispose of the garbage that will be diverted to the Green Bin program.

While the City has conducted an extensive public relations campaign they have not addressed directly the myths perpetrated by the haters.

For instance, the false concerns raised about vermin or maggots being attracted to the compost in the bins, ignoring the fact that we have always been putting our organic kitchen garbage out for collection in bins, only before we called them garbage cans. Nothing has changed except that the new Green Bins have a fairly secure locking device, better than most garbage cans.

The city also played into the hands of the haters by continuing weekly garbage collection. With recycling and composting, the only things that are left in the garbage are non-recyclable excess packaging and non-repairable broken household appliances and such - nothing that cannot keep for two weeks. It would make much more sense to collect those things every two weeks and the organic compost weekly. But instead, the city listened to the irrational arguments of the haters.

The city, and other well meaning people, including media fluff writers, have helped sabotage the program by making it seem much more complicated than it needs to be with all their helpful hints about freezing the waste (where was that idea when we were putting it in garbage cans) and buying all sorts of special bags to hold it.

First of all, buying special bags for the compost goes against the whole principle of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We want to first reduce what we consume - how does buying more stuff help do that.

It does not have to be complicated. For the first few weeks I simply put the kitchen waste in a plastic kitchen container (I used my existing compost pail but the one provided with the Green bin would work fine) and periodically dumped it into the Green Bin in the garage. Every couple of days I used a broom handle to loosen up the compost in the bin and when it came time for pickup there was no problem.

Since then I have refined my methodology, picking up the hint to use old newspapers to line the bin. I put newspapers along the bottom and up the sides a bit and then all along the sides from the top to cover the inside completely. I did have to slightly compromise my "not buy anything new" policy by using a very small amount of masking tape to help hold the newspaper to the sides of the bin at the top. That was a ten minute job the first time as I figured out the methodology and likely five minutes each time from now on.


Simple works. All it takes is caring and a few minutes of time to help save the city, taxpayers, and ultimately yourself money and to reduce the amount of garbage going into landfill and help the planet.

If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem.

1 comment:

rww said...

Today was Green Bin Day and even though I untaped the newspaper lining it stayed in the bin so I don't have to reline it. I just retaped the top and it should be good for another two weeks. Eventually I will have to dump the lining in the bin and start over but it looks like I get at least one month per 5 minutes spent lining the bin.

Seems pretty simple to me. No need for expensive and wasteful bin liners.