Separating your organic waste is more than just good for our planet. It can also help you save money on your annual property taxes. How? By reducing the size of your garbage bin. This can be achieved by using your organic waste bin and recycling bin to the highest potential. (Click here to learn more about the benefits of separating your organic waste.)
A simple guide
We've developed a simple guide to help determine if you can decrease the size of your garbage bin. It involves a few easy steps:
1) Determining if your city charges you based on bin size
2) Reviewing your past usage of your garbage bin
3) Reviewing your current usage of your garbage bin
4) Determining what size garbage bin will be optimal
Step 1: Will this work in your City
You need to determine if your City charges you an annual fee for garbage collection based on the size of your bin. This can be achieved by phoning your City. For example, the City of Vancouver charges residents an annual fee dependent on the size of the bin you use. Other cities may charge a flat fee for any size bin you have, which does not provide much incentive to decrease your bin size.
Step 2: Determine Past Usage
On average, how full has your garbage bin been over the past year? If you find that your bin is always half empty, this may mean that you can reduce the size of your bin.
If you find that your bin overflows, or is always full, do not fear, chances are that you may be able to decrease the size of your bin by auditing your current garbage stream. Move to Step 3.
Step 3: Review Current Usage
To determine if you can reduce the size of your bin you need to figure out what your current waste stream is like. This may allow you to better utilize your organic waste bin and recycling bin. Here are two questions to answer:
1) Am I recycling and separating my organic waste as best as I can?
Take a look at your garbage bin next time you take it out for collection, and see if their are items you can reroute to the recycling or organic waste bin. Most papers and plastics can be placed in the recycling bin. Rerouting your recyclable and organic waste takes a few extra minutes each day and can result in cost savings each year.
2) Will my waste stream be changing in the upcoming year?
If you think that your garbage stream will increase in the near future, do not downsize your bin just yet. If you are expecting a new member of the family or renting out a basement suite, you will most likely see an increase in your waste stream. It is a good idea to first see how your new situation will impact your waste before downsizing your garbage bin. You do not want to deal with an overflowing garbage bin that may attract vermin and other pests.
After looking at your current waste stream, either you have determined you can decrease your bin size, or that now is just not the right time to make such changes. If you can decrease your bin size move to Step 3. If you can not decrease your bin size, pay attention to your waste stream as time goes on, the opportunity may arise in the future to take advantage of a smaller garbage bin.
Step 4: What garbage bin size will work for you?
You have now decided to go for a smaller garbage bin, but what size will work best? We recommend you drop down a single bin size, and then determine if that size works for you. Certain cities will allow you to exchange your waste bins once per year for free. So dropping down a single bin size in one year will allow you to drop down another bin size if necessary in the next year. The City of Vancouver provides the following chart to help you determine what bin size may work best for your household:
Hopefully this guide has provided you with some steps you can follow to save money on your property taxes. If you have tips or suggestions on downsizing your garbage bin, let us know in the comment section below. Or, post your questions below and we will help answer them.
At first it may seem like Vancouver is the only city that partakes in separating it’s organic waste, but it is not alone. Many, and I mean many, other cities around the world separate their organic waste, and many have been doing it longer than Vancouver. The moral of the story is that organic waste separation is a growing trend around the world. Separating organic waste makes sense: It helps reduce the size of our landfills and the costs of maintaining and building more landfills. It helps us create more compost that can be used for agriculture, landscaping, and recreation. And it can be used to create energy that powers our lights.
Each of the cities below is at a different stage in organics waste diversion, but each of their goals is very similar: to get everyone separating organic waste.
In 2009, San Fran became the first city in the United States to pass a municipal ordinance that requires the source separation of all organic material. Residents of single and multi-family homes, businesses, and City employees must separate their organic waste.
Toronto’s Green Bin Program is currently servicing 460,000 single households. They are continuing to include apartments, condos, businesses, and city buildings in the program.
The city that never sleeps is also the city that separates organic waste. NYC started with a pilot program to collect organic waste from residents, schools, and institutions. That pilot program was later made into law in 2013, and continues today.
We know Sweden is not a city, but the entire country itself deserves recognition for its leading role in organic waste diversion. Sweden is a country of 9.5 million (for comparison, New York has a population of 8.4 million) and is 99% garbage free. This means that only 1% of the waste that the country produces goes to the landfill. Almost half of their annual waste (5 million tonnes) is turned into energy. The bins in the photo below are found in a hotel in Stockholm.
Does your city or a city you know of separate organic waste? Please let us know in the comments below!
If you are living in a residential building (i.e., apartment or condo) you either have started separating your organic waste, have been warned/threatened by your ecofreak neighbour that you have to separate organic waste, or you are still trying to figure out what organic waste actually is... No matter where you are, this article wants to help you get to where you need to be to meet Metro Vancouver's new organic waste separation bylaws. Let's get started:
A Quick Background
As of January 1st 2015, Metro Vancouver homes (including apartments and condos), commercial buildings, and industrial/institutional buildings will have to separate organic waste from their current waste stream. That means no food scraps can go in your trash--another reason for Moms to make sure the kids eat their broccoli. The city will begin inspection of waste loads from January 1st, 2015 until June 30th, 2015 to detect organic waste that is not being separated. Fines will be enforced from July 1st, 2015 until December 31st, 2015 for those who fail to separate organic waste.
What is Organic Waste?
Organic waste is almost anything that you throw out that can decompose in a relatively short amount of time. I say 'almost' because Metro Vancouver does have certain exceptions to what can be disposed of as organic waste. It may be easier to describe organic waste in terms of what you can actually throw into your organic waste bin. Here is a list of what you can throw into your organic waste bin, as per the City of Vancouver's website:
Phew, thats a lot of stuff! And here is what you cannot throw into your organic waste bin:
I have an organic waste bin, now what?
Well pat yourself on the shoulder, because the world just got more green! The organic waste bin does not have to be a major headache if you take the right steps when setting up your in house 'separation system'. Here are some tips on how to deal with organic waste disposal:
1) Type of organic waste bin:
Metro Vancouver does provide organic waste bins to you, however, maybe it just does not work for your living or working space.
Find a bin that fits your area. If you have limited counter space in your kitchen, it may be helpful to use a smaller organic waste bin. You can purchase a different size bin from a local shop in your town, or search online. Or, if you are feeling like a do-it-yourselfer, use an old tupperware container.
2) Placement of the bin:
Where you put your bin may make all the difference in the world. Placing it on the ground may not seem too appealing if you dispose of your organic waste 3 or 4 times a day. Also, keeping the bin too close to your 'relax area' may cause unwanted smells to linger over. Some of us at Compy have found that it helps to keep the organic waste bin next to your kitchen sink. Here, you can dispose of your organic waste before placing your dishes in the sink. And, its at an easy height to get to--no bending over!
You could also place your organic waste bin outside on a patio or in the backyard. Though this may be more out of the way, it will keep smells from lingering indoors. Beware, if you have had squirrels, crows, or raccoons in your yard, they may be attracted to the scent of the organic waste bin and knock over the bin while they rummage through looking for something to eat. This can lead to a not so fun cleaning project.
3) Stopping harsh odours from the bin:
Another issue you may run into are harsh odours that come from the organic waste as it starts to decompose. There are a few ways to stop excess smells from coming from the bin. First, make sure you do not completely seal the lid of your compost bin. Having air enter the bin and flow through the organic waste will help the organic waste to smell less. Some bins provided by Metro Vancouver cities have holes in the top of the lid to allow for air to enter.
Second, use Compy, an organic waste odour absorber. Compy helps absorb the odours that come from the organic waste. It does this with carbon 'chips' that absorb excess moisture and balance the organic waste. To be specific, the micro-organisms that eat your organic waste produce the harsh odours that you smell. These harsh odours are a result of an unbalanced diet for the micro-organisms. Compy helps balance that diet with carbon, so your micro-organisms do not create harsh odours. Give Compy a try, if it doesn't work for you, they will gladly return your money!
Separating your organic waste does not have to be a headache. Hopefully these tips and suggestions will help make your transition to organic waste disposal easier and more enjoyable. Remember, separating your organic waste is great for you, your city, and our planet. If you have any tips, tricks, or questions on separating organic waste, please leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you, and so would other readers!
Compy was born in beautiful Vancouver, a city with an expanding composting program. And thankfully, lots of cities are realizing the many benefits of composting by implementing programs of their own, cutting down drastically on landfills and unnecessary waste.
But if your city isn't on board yet, you can still take composting into your own green hands! Composting is simple and clean enough to do on your own, indoors or out, especially when you use Compy to cut down on odours,. It's easier, of course, if your city takes your scraps each week, but you'll be surprised by what you can do with them yourself, too. So here are our tips for composting when you have to 'go it alone.
Get a Good Bin
It's great when your city gives you bins, but buying or making your own is easy, too. Take a trip to your local gardening or hardware store and you should find what you need. Or if you're a little bit handier, there are lots of DIY guides for making composting bins online. If you have a backyard, this can be as simple as making a compost pile. For indoor composting, you just need a bin with a lid, and a little know-how. Here's a guide we found particularly helpful.
Be Careful What You Compost
City programs can compost a wider variety of scraps than you generally can at home. So if you're doing it yourself, don't try to compost meat, fish, or any dairy products – they can be too smelly or hard to break down, even when you're taking the right precautions.
But you can throw in all your fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grinds, tea bags, shredded paper bags .... Once you get started, it's a fun journey figuring out exactly what's compostable. Here's a good list to get you started.
And it's always a good practice, but when you're composting yourself, it's helpful to break down your scraps into little pieces. This will speed up the process, giving you fresh soil quicker.
Eliminate the 'Ick' Factor
For some people, the mental hurdle of holding on to their trash is harder than composting itself. And it's true - if your city doesn't take your scraps, you'll have to keep them until they turn into soil, which can take weeks.
Using Compy is one way to make your indoor composting a lot less gross. Sprinkling a layer into the bottom of your bin will absorb lots of moisture, and regularly adding more layers will greatly reduce any foul smells, including ones that can attract rodents. It will also help reduce flies and insects and help prevent them from laying eggs – helping you sleep better at night!
Use Your Soil
Composting makes fresh soil, but you might not know what to do with it if you don't have a backyard. But don't worry – you won't be stuck with a pile of dirt. You can use your compost as topsoil for potted plants, donate it to your local urban garden, or give it to friends, neighbours or coworkers who have gardens of their own. Some people even go online to sites like Craigslist to sell their compost or give it away.
Hopefully, you won't let your city's lack of action prevent you from taking your own, given how good composting is for our environment. Stay tuned to the blog for more tips and info, and please let us know in the comments – does your city have a composting program, and if not, how do you manage your own composting?
If your city has an organic waste collection program, you know that disposing organic waste is easy and really good for the environment. But let's face it – composting trash isn't pretty. Adding Compy into your daily organic waste disposal routine is an easy way to stop those harsh odors and reduce flies and maggots, and it makes cleaning the bin much simpler, too .
To get a fresher compost bin, here’s how we dispose of our organic waste, using Compy:
2. Add a layer of Compy to the bottom: Moisture builds up in organic waste, and gravity will pull wetness to the bottom of the bin. A good layer of Compy will absorb this moisture. For the bin shown here, we added one hand-full of Compy. Depending on the size of your organic waste bin, you may have to add more or less - experiment and see what works for you!
3. Add organic waste, then more Compy. Add your organic waste to the bin like normal, then add a layer of Compy over it – it's that simple. We recommend adding enough Compy to make it hard to see the organic waste below. This makes it harder for flies and other pests to land on the organic waste and lay their eggs.
4. When the bin is full, empty it. And enjoy a cleaner, healthier organic waste bin!
And remember, this is a general guide, so you might find different amounts of Compy work better for your composting process. Please leave a comment below telling us how much Compy you use, and how it works for you!
If you don't live in a community that mandates it, you've probably heard of composting, but you might not know exactly why it's so important. Maybe there's so much you already do to reduce your carbon footprint, that hanging on to your food scraps seems unnecessary. But composting is actually one of the best things you can do for the environment, and it's a tangible way to affect change. Besides being so easy, it has some profound benefits for our communities, too – here's our favourite three.
1. Fewer landfills = Happy Planet: The most obvious reason to compost is to create less garbage. Less garbage means fewer landfills. Fewer landfills mean not just a cleaner environment, but a healthier one, too. At least 40% of your garbage can be composted, so you can reduce your personal contribution to landfills by nearly half.
Remember, landfills aren't benign trash collectors. They're nasty heaps of rotting garbage that create toxic gases that can seep into the air and groundwater, and they take up valuable, finite space. Diverting waste from them is a simple but powerful step towards greener communities.
2. An Energy Resource: Rich soil isn't the only valuable resource you'll make composting – that comes later in the process. Organic waste is actually a valuable resource itself. The food scraps you normally trash can be used to create low-carbon, sustainable energy – it's called biomass energy, and it could supplement other alternative energies, like wind and solar.
3. Beautiful, Beautiful Compost: It says it in the name – when you're composting, you're creating compost, the high quality, organic and free soil that you can use in your garden. Nutrient dense and fertile, it will help you grow better yields and healthy plants easier. Or if you're lucky enough to live in a municipality with a composting program, it will be used in local farms and parks. You're literally turning trash into much-needed treasure.
Sometimes, the benefits of our green activities aren't immediate or immediately clear – but that's not the case with composting. We love it because its benefits are widespread (we could go on and on - stay tuned!), and it can easily be done in our own homes. It's a way to effect really positive change, today, in a really obvious way, and you'll end up with a great product that you – or your local farmers – will love.