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In the Bag

Brown Paper Bag

As of this morning’s curbside pickup, nearly half of Kingston will have had the opportunity to participate in the city’s first green bin collection.  According to stats provided by City Officials, approximately 35% of Kingstonians are using their green bins, while usage is on par with what they expected at the beginning of this initiative.  It’s no secret that I’m a huge proponent of Kingston’s organic waste recycling program.  In the past, I’ve commented on everything from the benefits of diverting waste from landfills, to eventually offsetting/reducing weekly garbage bag collection, and even the design of the promotional materials associated with the green bin.  In the wake of my first curbside collection, I thought that I’d pass on and solicit some green bin tips.

Along with your green bin, you should have received 2 complimentary Bag To Earth paper liners.  It didn’t take long for us to fill both of these, and we quickly scrambled to find out where we could purchase additional Bag to Earth liners in Kingston.  Thankfully the list or retailers is long, and most stores have ample stock, however there is one significant catch.  Although I appreciate the fact that the Bag To Earth liners are durable, and thus they won’t leak all over the place when it comes time to transfer waste from one bin to another, that still doesn’t justify the astronomical price.

For instance, their largest box of small food waste bags (x 200) costs $80, or $0.40 per bag.  Further, their biggest box of large food waste bags (x 60) retails for $54, while the price per bag is a staggering $0.90.  Thus if you choose to line your green bin with Bag To Earth products, you’re essentially throwing out a small fortune.  So what are the alternatives? The city does not accept biodegradable or compostable plastic bags, although in some cases these are just as expensive as their paper cousins.  You could forgo bags altogether, although that would create rather unfriendly odors, and the city may not accept the contents of your green bin.  If you put out your green bin without using paper liners, and the city collected it, please let us know by commenting.

My solution came to me after ordering take out, which came in a free brown paper bag.  Since we don’t eat enough take out to keep ourselves stocked with free green bin liners, we decided to supplement our supply by purchasing some lunch-sized paper bags.  Although I can’t recall the exact price or quantity of the lot, I’m almost certain I’m now paying less than 5 cents per paper bag, which is a huge savings in comparison to the Bag To Earth options.  Sure they may not be as large or durable as the Bag To Earth’s products, but the savings far outweigh the disadvantages.

Please let us know what you’re lining your green bin with, so that we can promote the most affordable and environmental option. Thanks and photo credit to THERKD for the picture of the guy with a paper bag on his head.

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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...

7 thoughts on “In the Bag

  • April 10, 2009 at 10:57 am
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    Yes I agree the bag to earth prices are rediculous and probably overkill in function too.

    I didn’t use paper bags in my green bin last week. However it was mostly filled with twigs from my yard and a tiny bit of food scraps on the top.

    My plan is to compost 90% of it myself in my backyard and just put stuff like fish, meat, cheese, etc that isn’t backyard compostable into the green bin. For that stuff I would like a paper bag or some sort. I haven’t figured out what i’ll use yet. I plan to try to hang onto any paper bags instead of recycling them in my grey box i.e. paper bags from loblaws for mushrooms, lcbo paper bags etc

  • April 10, 2009 at 3:29 pm
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    Immediate effects of the curbside composting: the number of bags to landfill at junior’s residence fell by one third. I think with more attention to what goes in we can reduce to about half the amount of waste going to the landfill.

  • April 13, 2009 at 12:06 pm
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    We’ve been a big fan of the green bin program ever since it was first announced and almost immediately went out to pick up the liner bags. I wanted to put the system through it’s paces “as it was intended”, if you will. I didn’t mind the cost so much as a) the company is in Napanee so it’s supporting an area company and b) it was an experiment anyway. I purchased a 5-pack of the large liners the day my bin arrived, and a package of the small ones once I had used the 2 complementary ones.

    One thing a lot of people I asked failed to notice was that the two free bags are different – one has a plastic-y (cellulose) liner, and one doesn’t… This makes one “spill-proof”. We used the non-lined little bin first and filled in just a few days, but when I went to take it from my kitchen to the garage (where my green bin lies) the bottom fell out. The smell was awful and the mess was worse. I had no such problems with the lined bag. The big bag was only lined… So I don’t have any non-lined experiences there. Suffice to say, when we bought small bag replacements, we went with the lined ones.

    We’re going to be tracking our usage of the bags over the next few weeks as the first collection was an “extended” one (because we got our bin over a week before the first pickup) and our collection is being affected twice by the easter holiday. My estimate, though, will be 3 small bags/week, and 1 large bag every week – or $2.10/wk based on the above prices. We may abandon the large bags if we use the small bags enough, but we’ve been dumping a lot of stuff directly into the large bag – so we may end up keeping that and abandoning the small ones instead.

  • April 13, 2009 at 4:21 pm
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    @Tommy A work around using the lined bags would be to keep your bag in the small kitchen container when transporting to the curbside vessel. We’ve been using paper bags since we ran out of the free ones, and we are pretty diligent in disposing them when they are full. Although they aren’t as durable, they don’t leak too badly. I’d estimate that we are using about 8 bags a week, and we’ve racking up the savings in comparison to using the Bag to Earth Cadillacs.

  • April 15, 2009 at 4:47 pm
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    Does anybody know who to contact if you haven’t gotten a green bin? All of the houses around me have recieved them but our apartment area has not…

  • April 15, 2009 at 5:01 pm
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    Hey Rhiannon, according to the Green Bin FAQ “You can get one at Kingston Area Recycling Centre at 196 Lappan’s Lane, Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you are a tenant or home owner in a residence with six units or fewer, you should have received a Green Bin in March of 2009. If you did not receive one during the delivery period, March 2 to March 27, and are still waiting, you can contact Customer Service at 613-546-0000.”

  • April 21, 2009 at 2:24 pm
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    UPDATE: I cleaned out one of our flower beds this past weekend and filled a gigantic paper leaf bag with twigs, leaves etc… It was way too full to be stuffed into our Green Bin so we put it out to the curb beside the Green Bin. Thankfully everything was picked up…good thing too because we have a lot in our brush pile. Will be putting out the extra bag until all of it is gone.

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