Composting isn’t hard, especially if you remember not to use plastic

I see there’s a debate over whether to accept plastic bags in green bins.

I don’t get it. I read again.

Newly elected Capital ward Coun. Shawn Menard wants to revisit the City of Ottawa’s plan to allow plastic bags in green bins, the cause of a major debate during the last term of council.

Menard gave notice at Tuesday’s meeting of the standing committee on environmental protection, water and waste management that he wants to discuss holding off on that compost plan when the committee meets again in April.

As it stands, residents will be able to throw plastic bags into their compost bins starting this summer, after city council renegotiated its contract in 2018 with Orgaworld, now known as Renewi Canada.


The point of expanding what’s allowed in the bins is to “reduce the ick factor” and get more people composting, because only half of households do, said Marilyn Journeaux, director of solid waste.

I love the people of this city. I really do. Ottawa is a great place to live. Etc.

But what the hell, folks.

Menard is worried that if we let people throw plastic in the compost bin it might lead to an increase in the overall use of plastic as people get more of the five-cent ones from Loblaws to get rid of their avocado pits.

Hes right, I guess. Me, I’m worried it will lead to widespread stupidity. So in the interest of promoting composting and reducing the ick factor (because I’m nice like that) allow me to make a few suggestions.

First of all, use liners. Second of all? Use more liners.* And if you have stuff that’s just gross and smelly? Use your freezer.

Say you have a nice countertop bin to catch your veggie scraps and eggshells, right there behind the sink so the dog doesn’t get into it too easily. Every now and then it gets full so you need to empty it somewhere. Don’t just toss the contents into the green bin. Because that’s gross. It gets it all dirty and yucky and smelly. And unless you’re religious about cleaning your bin after each pickup, it’ll get grosser every week. In the winter, it’s not so bad. But in the summer, it doesn’t take long for the smell to become like a solid cloud that hits your face when you crack open the lid.

Also maggots. Enough said.

Back to points 1 and 2. Bin liners are for sale at every grocery store, Walmart, everywhere. There are big liners for the big bins, and small liners for your countertop thingy. Get a big one in the bin, and that’s where you toss your organic waste, making sure not to miss said bag, because that has a way of defeating the purpose real quick when there’s juice from your mouldy onions, the ones you’d forgotten at the back of the crisper that are oozing something dark and vaguely menacing, anyway if the juice from that sits underneath the liner. (Please don’t ask me how I know this.)

Problem mostly solved.

Now get the small liners, and use them for the gross or smelly stuff. The fish bones, the bits of meat you don’t want to leave outside in the sun even if they’re safely inside the liner. Because it makes your driveway smell like an open-air dump. Throw that stuff in a small liner liner, fold it, and stash it in the freezer near the cans of Minute Maid that have been there since the second Reagan administration. Nothing smells in the freezer because it’s, drum roll, frozen. When that little bag is full enough, throw it in the green bin the night or morning before pickup so it doesn’t have time to thaw and start ponging.

So now you’re ready to compost, sans plastique, and without even raising any maggots. It wasn’t even that hard.

You’re welcome.

* Some people immediately object that liners cost money. They do, yes, because they’re a product. One you need, too. Kind of like garbage bags – which I notice you routinely buy without too much griping. Also composting saves you space in garbage bags so you just might come out even. Let’s pretend liners are like garbage bags and move on. Yes?

Writer | Ottawa. Books include Épître aux tartempions, Le national-syndicalisme, Down the Road Never Travelled, Not Just for Kicks, Le livre Uber (upcoming).

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