I am as environmentally-friendly as the next person.
I am very much into the whole ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra – I save my vegetable scraps and make stock for soup each week, buy and sell back clothes for us all at resale shops instead of buying new, have drastically cut down the amount of waste and/or paper coming into the house, buy in bulk on a regular basis, and try (where possible) to eat fresh, local produce or meat – that I lovingly cook from scratch at least 4x a week, no less.
So you would have thought I’d be completely and totally on board with the City of Portland’s new mandate (supposedly thoroughly vetted via pilot program/surveys/citizen focus groups) to reduce garbage pickups from once per week to every other week. What do we get instead, you wonder? Well, your yard debris bin now also can be used to house the contents of your compost bin – that’s now where food scraps, leftovers, turkey carcasses, etc. now belong – and NOT your garbage bag.
To aid this effort, the city provided these really adorable little compost buckets, so you can take your food scraps outside regularly instead of letting them all fester inside. And oh-so-helpful city employees gave alternate tips to manage the outflow of food scraps (“freeze a bag of compost instead, then recycle the frozen bag on pickup day!”)
But the program’s not going over well, judging from the grumblings I hear about it on Twitter – from the very people you’d think would be enthusiastically on board. Why? In a nutshell: very little common sense was applied.
Think about it:
- The ratios are all out-of-whack – our garbage can is full after a week and a half; while the green bin is barely 1/8th full each week – even with two households filling it! (Okay, we may have some leaves mixed in with this week’s batch. But what happens after the leaves are all gone…?)
- Those adorable little buckets? Impractical as hell – even with the specially-purchased biodegradable liners that leak after a single drop of liquid hits the liner. (Coffee grounds? Instant sieve…) I now have another bucket to clean out 2-3 times a week, otherwise the fermentation kicks in in a less than olfactory-pleasing way. Another minus? They’re not locally produced, are they? Nope. And to those who’ve suggested using newspaper as a liner instead – um, I’m not reading/buying newspapers (see that whole ‘reduce/reuse/recycle’ mantra above) – not even to line a compost bin.
- The larger green bin? Is now a lovely toxic waste breeding ground after a month. The city suggests baking soda, a soap/water rinse, or…more newspapers. (Is this how we keep the newspaper industry afloat, I wonder?)
- How many families with children have room in their freezer, anyway – much less for bags of rotting compost?
Yes, I’m still using the system – for now. But how many Portlanders have already opted out – choosing instead to just cram more stuff in their now-overflowing trash cans?
Are you on board here with the new mandate to compost your food scraps? Why or why not?