Green bin woes

by admin on July 23, 2010

I was super excited when they brought the green bin program to Ottawa and couldn’t wait to start using it.

I scoffed at the paper bags that people used in their bins… it was just a big garbage can, why bother with lining it. And it was fine… if a big gunky… all winter long.

And then, just like it was predicted, things started changing when we hit summer. And one word, a word that had a connotation that I think is even worse than their actuality, was my final straw with how I felt about the green bin.

The day Eric came inside to tell me the green bin was crawling with maggots was the day I started wanting to throw my “green bin-able” items back in the garbage. And despite Eric trying to clean the bin and trying to kill the maggots with salt, the day I opened the garage and found it full of hundreds of flies, I had a temper tantrum.

Not to mention the smell. Oh, the smell in the garage was unbearable.

Last week we decided to hire Bin Aces to come and clean the bin. I’d heard about them in a blog post months and months ago (possibly this one or this one ) and because our bin was SO DISGUSTING, we decided to spend the price to do it once. The alternative was getting inside the sludgy maggoting disgusting bin. I’d pay $15 to avoid that! The idea was that we were going to then put away the bin until the heat isn’t so bad.

This morning I went outside and not only was our bin clean, it smelled GOOD! (my only small complaint was that the web site said they would be calling up to set up a time they would come and they never did that. Good thing I left the bin outside just in case.) I’m halfway tempted to actually try the bags and see how it goes instead of giving up entirely on the bin.

Some people suggest things like freezing the stuff until garbage day, but I really don’t need that as an added task every week.

How are you dealing with the green bin? Are you using it? Are the maggots trying to take over your house too?

28 comments
Kim
Kim

We've never rinsed ours, I have to say, but only because since the garage has warmed up, I keep the bags in the fridge. I read a lot about keeping them in the freezer and I don't have room for that, but in the back depths of my fridge, there's room. We use two bags a week, I think--they are really cheap at Costco, btw--and put them into the green bin the night before collection, on top of a few layers of newspaper. And we've been really lucky that the guys emptying it never dump the bags--it always stays completely dry, somehow. And I agree with the people who've mentioned putting dry things in there. I think it helps a lot.

XUP
XUP

Thanks for the backlink. I also hope no one gives up on the program just because a few adjustments need to be made.Instead of liners you could wrap food waste in newspaper before dumping it in the bin. That will help maintain the wet/dry ratio. And getting your bins professionally cleaned and disinfected regularly is an excellent idea.

EricD
EricD

Boy, lots of comments! No bags inside, no bags outside, but only vegetable waste and lots of coffee filters. Meat waste goes in the garbage. Only one person goes in that bin - guess who? Rinse it out each week, just hose it down. The green bin lives outside. I hold my breath when I open it and close the door to the house. Yeah, there are bugs, but no big deal. It's pretty tame compared to an outhouse.

Lynn
Lynn

We've been lucky so far, too. We use the big bags as liners in the big bin because I found it wasn't being emptied properly without the liner, and the stuff left in the bottom of the bin was so awful. For the smaller bin, I use plain brown lunch bags - two fit in there quite well and they are super cheap. We do make a point of putting all tissues, toilet paper rolls, and paper towel in our green bin -- maybe these "drys" are helping. In any case, fingers crossed!

Lara
Lara

incredibly hot topic apparently :)

Capital Mom
Capital Mom

Who knew maggots were such an interesting topic of discussion. :-)

twohandsfull
twohandsfull

I have had maggots once so far. It was very disgusting but not enough to make me want to quit. I am now using the bags in the large bin and newspaper in the inside bin. It seems to helping a bit. I wonder we were to try and recreate an environment more like the one in our back yard composters if it would help. layer of grass clippings or leaves on bottom, and a layer after each deposit (or a few if your deposits are small/frequent). That way the food isn't open to the air and even if a fly gets in it won't find any uncovered food.

@kristahouse
@kristahouse

We do not have maggots (knock on wood). We use newspaper origami in the small kitchen bin and when it gets full I take it and wrap it completely closed with more newspaper. Like wrapping up a big present! We use most of our newspaper this way. Our green bin is kept in the garage and doesn't smell any worse than our garbage can did. Oh, and we always close and lock the lid.

Jenn Of The Roof
Jenn Of The Roof

We don't use our green bin because everything goes in the backyard composter, but I've never had maggots in there. The key to successful compost is a balance of wet and dry items - if the balance is good, the composting process starts right away. I'm told maggots love a nitrogen rich environment - that's all the wet stuff, so if you add more "dry" - ie: grass, shredded paper, cardboard, your bin will be more balanced, and less attractive to maggots. My compost sits over the winter, and by early spring it's cooked enough for the garden. The difference is HUGE in the parts of the garden that are compost rich!

Lara
Lara

wow! 1 bag every 6-8 weeks. Very impressive! I can't quite figure out why some people are getting maggots and why some aren't (although I think it must help that you are freezing the meat) I'm glad it's working for you!

Andrea
Andrea

I've used mine religiously since we got it and have hade ZERO maggots or swarms of flies (kitchen bin or big green bin). We leave the big green bin in the garage and latched tight and the only bugs I've seen were a few earwigs around the orange handle. I don't even really notice a smell in the garage from it. We do use liners for the kitchen bin. Everything goes out to the big bin as required unless collection day has just passed - in which case meat scraps get wrapped in newspaper and put in the freezer until the night before collection. I love it and will continue to use it - we're 'just the two us' but it has helped us reduce our garbage to one big bag every 6-8wks.

eisangel
eisangel

We've been diehard green binner's since the inception. Then summer came. Not bags, keeping lid latched etc. kept maggots away. And I don't have room in my freezer for green bin waste! Not to mention the irritation of having to clean the front walkway everyday from all the bird crap because they now all hang out waiting for maggots. Sorry green bin...you're done until Fall.

Rebecca
Rebecca

I don't clean the bin, that's hubby's job, but only once we had maggots (my dad discovered them, not me!) and I know it's because it was left open a crack (ahem, dad). DH rinsed it out and they haven't been back. We find it helps that we layer dirt in it. We don't use bags etc. But, at the end of the summer,if he can't keep it clean, for $15 that service sounds worth it!

Lara
Lara

It doesn't seem like people are willing to give up yet, at least the ones commenting here. I don't even think it's just the maggots (because my husband has been dealing with them), it's really the godawful smell and the flies. The flies that were getting into my house and swarming the garage and ew ew ew. Now that we've had the bin properly cleaned and sanitized, it has a liner in it. Hopefully that will help with things and over time more and more people will have good suggestions on how to keep it as un-gross as possible and more and more people will start to use it. I'm sure it took a long time to get so many people using the recycling bins too.

smothermother
smothermother

i find it sort of sad that everyone is willing to leave the green bin program because of maggots. To reply to Donna, Ottawa has a huge landfill problem in that we have run out of space and a huge part of that space is due to compostable items. It seems like a bit of a NIMBY response. I use the little origamy newspaper folded liner for the kitchen bin. We put absolutely everything in it and the large green bin is outside. No maggots. I think the liner is key. I really hope that you your readers don't give up on the initiative. Ottawa is years behind on being socially concious about our waste and we really need to start catching up.

Patricia
Patricia

We have Maggots here too. They don't bother me as much as the flies... Our Green Bin is kept outside (we don't have a garage) so the smell isn't too much of an issue, but I can tell when the lid has been left open after hosing it out and letting it dry in the sun. We do not use liners, and I can't see ever going that route. We have had a backyard composter and used it religiously for the past 8 years and never dealt with maggots, the only difference is the meat. I was considering cutting it out of the green bin if the vegitarian household has maggots too I guess that is not going to help. I won't be giving up on the program. It took us way too long to get it in place and I'm still shocked to see how few of my neighbours put out the bin on garbage day. As for the cost savings, I'd like to see true garbage pick up dropped to every second week. With a compost and recycling program we don't generate much in the way of garbage, I put out half a bag this morning.

Christy
Christy

We use the liners in the small container in our kitchen as well as in the green bin. Just this morning while the husband was putting out the green bin for collection, he came back in to say we have maggots. Again. I've cleaned it once and he's cleaned it once and honestly? Now I'm not sure I will use it again until after the summer. We adopted the program right away and have been faithful but I spend days after I see maggots feeling like I have them crawling all over me and I can't stand it!

donna
donna

My friends live in a vegetarian household, no meat in their bin ever, and they have maggots too...

Amy
Amy

We used to keep the big bin in our garage, but the smell got too bad and we moved it to the front yard. The day we came home and there were maggots, hundreds of them, crawling around the garage was the day I told Joe the bin was now his responsibility. He's started lining the small bin, which makes it cleaner but also seems to take up a lot of space. I am now less concerned about our fly problem and more annoyed with our fruit fly infestation.

Lara
Lara

Do you think it's just the meat that causes the maggots? I really want to keep them away this time, but it seems more like luck who has them and who doesn't :P

Ottmomgo
Ottmomgo

I use the little bags in the kitchen bin and a big one in the bin. No maggots for me. I also use my backyard composter for the veggie and fruit waste in the summer. I don't think you'll get maggots if you stick to fruit/veg for the summer.

Lara
Lara

I agree, I haven't touched it in months. But still, going into the garage became revolting! Our old house had a composter and this one doesnt. I've been considering getting one here and then figuring out the rest for the green bin. I just wish it weren't so gross!!

Finola
Finola

Green bins are a husband's job. At least in summer time. End of story. But I have to say I am having a hard time getting behind this particular green initiative. Does the extra set of trucks on the road collecting the green bin contents cancel out the benefits of the green bin? After all, organics at a dump are not doing any actual environmental harm.

Jay
Jay

I line the large bin with yard waste bags! Cheaper and bigger then the other ones they sell for the green bins and since they're made of paper they're fine. I also do the oragami bin liners. I'm almost afraid to say it/type it out loud :) But (knock on wood) we haven't had those issues...We do try to rinse the bin occassionally as well.

Lara
Lara

I don't think it helps that we're having an exceptionally hot summer. Figures!

Lara
Lara

ugh. I so want to be good about it and not throw away green bin stuff but it's revolting. I think we're going to try the liners this week. I've calmed down now that the bin smells better than new ;)

Donna
Donna

Maggots live in and around our bin. My husband has cleaned it once. I just close my eyes, close my mouth, and open it to throw stuff in. It's pretty terrible but I figure so is landfilling green items...$15 seems really worth it...we should do that before winter. We don't use bags either...

Jan
Jan

We had maggots too. I make sure that the lid is securely latched. ALWAYS. Also, I started using the liners again. In the big bin and the kitchen one. It keeps it a little tidier. That's been working so far. Who knew it would be so disgusting??

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  1. [...] started collecting our kitchen scraps. It went well, for the most part. But as summer has worn on, it’s gotten grosser. And grosser. And grosser. Plus, the bin has gotten gunkier with each passing week, because there [...]

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