Winter Tips for your Green Bin

winterize green bin, organic waste recycling in the winter, green bin tipsAs I write this, a very light trickle of snow is creating a majestic winter scene in Kingston, and along the northern shore of Lake Ontario.  While the flurries took a bit longer to find us this year, winter’s chilling temperatures have been with us for quite some time.  Our least favourite season brings with it some irritating challenges and thankless chores ranging from snow shovelling to winterizing your home and safely navigating slippery roads.  This year Kingstonians have a brand new obstacle to overcome, as this is the first time we’ve had to care for our green bins during snowy, sub-zero conditions.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the thin layer of snow on our green bin had thawed, and then re-froze.  This effectively created an icy barrier, which prevented our efforts to recycle our household’s organic waste.  I used a hammer to gently knock the ice off of the lid and locking mechanism, which put our green bin back in business.  This got me thinking about whether or not other Kingstonians would go to such lengths to use theirs.  I suppose if you are ambitious enough to diligently use your green bin, a little bit of ice isn’t going to thwart your organic waste recycling efforts.

When the time came to move our green bin out to the curb for collection, it was apparent that the contents had frozen solid, and might be impossible to remove.  A few forceful jabs with a hockey stick cleared up the log jam, and the next day my green bin was ceremoniously emptied.  I wheeled the container back to its regular spot in our side yard, however this time around I simply closed the lid without engaging the lock.  A few weeks later and I have yet to get the hammer out to clear any additional ice.

In light of potential problems, the City of Kingston has offered the following tips so that you may safeguard your green bin from old man winter:

  • Line your Green Bin or Kitchen Container to prevent organic waste from freezing to the sides of the Green Bin. Try the organics origami for easy-to-follow instructions on how to fold a Kitchen Container liner out of newsprint.
  • Keep the Green Bin in a shed, garage, or in a sheltered spot against an exterior wall of your home.
  • Keep it loose: to make sure your Green Bin waste shakes out, keep its contents loose by layering wet and dry waste.

In the end, it seems as though a common sense approach is your best bet. Or a hammer and a hockey stick.  But whatever you do, please don’t resort to coating the interior of your green bin with non-stick cooking oil.  No offence to our nation’s capital, but promoting the use of aerosol spray cans significantly undermines the purpose of recycling organic waste.

Do you have any advice for keeping your green bin winter friendly?  If so, please drop off some comments below.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

8 thoughts on “Winter Tips for your Green Bin

  • I keep my green bin scraps in my freezer in a plastic bag. It keeps the house from stinking up the house in the summer and in the winter it keeps them from freezing to the green bin. On collection day I extract the scraps from the plastic bag (it’s easier than you’d think) and drop them into the bin in their frozen chunked state ;)

  • We use the bags made by the Napanee company Bag to Earth in the winter. They keep the contents from freezing to the sides of the bin, or into a big lump. Without the smell and bug factor in the winter, we can go two to three weeks without having the bin emptied, so it doesn’t cost that much to use the bags. You can get them online (cheapest) or at Canadian Tire or Zellers.

    Instead of the non-stick spray, you could also try cooking oil. Application might be a bit messy though.

  • @Laura We got a few of the Bag to Earth sacs when the green bin arrived at our door last Spring. We thought they worked great, but after doing a bit of shopping around, we could not justify the rather hefty price tag for something that we were simply going to throw out. I don’t doubt that they are less likely to leak, and therefore freeze to the interior of a green bin. But from our experience, paper lunch bags, and old newspaper work just as well when your transporting scraps from the kitchen to the bin.

    Whether it’s spray on or from a bottle, there’s no way that I am going to coat the interior of my green bin with oil.

  • @Leif That’s a great idea, I never thought about keeping my scraps in the freezer. I have to admit that I’m a very reluctant “green binner” because of the smell/mess… but that’s a great solution! I’m going to try it out today.

  • If you’re concerned about the smell, empty the indoor bin regularly. I also use paper bags in the indoor bin and when one is full, I take it out to the green bin. Easy peasy and it takes up about 40 seconds of my day.

  • I still don't understand why cities differ in what they allow in their green bins. Ottawa put out a notice this week calling for people to stop putting dog feces in their green bins. However, the Nation's Capital allows kitty litter and wood chips/droppings from hamsters etc… in their green bins. Why do they treat dog turd differently from cat turd? Furthermore, aren't our green bins going to the same sort of facility as Ottawa? Does anyone know why we can't include kitty litter?

  • I toss all the requisite kitchen scraps into my composter in summer. But, come winter … it's a different story. To avoid putting such stuff directly into the green bin, I create `packages'. I use small boxes in the beige bin that's kept in the kitchen — cookies, snack bars, anything that's small and cardboard — once full, I take it/them out to the green bin … which keeps it very tidy and fairly clean-smelling. Other times, I'll just wrap bigger `piles' :-) (turkey bones and such) in newspaper, and that then goes into the bin. Once the stuff's been picked up, I leave the lid open for the rest of the day, to air it out. And if it's raining, well, the bin gets a shower :-) For all seasons, meat and other non-composter items go into a ziploc bag (the ones for deli meats are a great size) and as someone else has already said — toss into the freezer till garbage day. The contents are indeed easy to remove — and again become a package for the green bin. The one problem I have is the frozen locking mechanism … and I see someone's suggested a gentle application of a hammer (or hockey stick … whichever's closer to hand!) as the solution. I'll try that. Glad to have found this site, even if comments are from many many weeks ago … hope the site's still functioning!
    A fellow WordPress-er

  • Good ole Canadian whack with the hockey stick. sounds like a plan for ice. But what about when it's frozen shut/locked with no ice in sight?

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