Recycling Food Scraps
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Recycling Food Scraps
We collect our food scraps, etc. in a plastic compost bin that
the waste company provided us. We seem to be getting lots of
mold in the compost bin and attracting lots of flies too. What is
the best way to keep it clean? Frequency of cleaning? Should we
be keeping it out of the kitchen? Thanks.
I use brown paper bags to line my green plastic container. I usually
use the big brown
bags. I usually tear off the top part. It keeps the mold and gross
factor down so much
so that I usually only wipe down the container before I line it again.
The bio bags also
seem to work.
Hello, we have started collecting our ''green waste'' from the
kitchen, ie: crusts of bread bits of veggies, etc. in a bowel in the
kitchen and then we have put it in our Green Waste trash can to be
picked up by the garbage truck every other week. So, we now have a
very stinky garbage area and many flies. I was thinking this was the
''green'' thing to do, decrease land fill and all, but I am clearly
not doing it right. Any suggestions as to how to dispose of kitchen
waste in a way that doesn't lead to stink and flies? Also, if your
answer is ''compost'', don't I need to eventually DO something with
the compost too? I don't know take it out and spread it on my
theoretical organic garden or something?
What I do is use the small green bin that Oakland delivers with a
bio bag inside then empty that into the big green bin. No flies,
You may want to rethink the 'bowel' :-)
Its horrible if you don't use those biodegradable waste bags. I
think the brand we use is called ''biobag'' or something weird like
that. They line your compost pail and then when you go to throw
it out, you just lift the bag out, tie it up, and toss the whole
thing in the green bin. It contains all the gross stufffor the
week its sitting there. If you don't use these, and just gather
the rotting waste, you have a nasty mess both in the house and
stopwaste.org or the ''rotline'' 510-444-soil can assist you
with all your composting needs. I invested $30 in a nice
stainless steel kitchen composting pail from elephant pharmacy
(whole foods ext., totally worth it) it looks great, has a
charcoal filter and holds 2-3 days worth of scraps. The green
bin stinkyness can be resolved by adding ''dry'' layers after you
dump your ''wet'' compost from the kitchen- newspapers, paper
bags, leaves, hay ext. your bin will always be a bit icky- ive
never had any problems with the lid down. maybe try keeping
waste in a paper bag to keep off of the bin a bit?
Hiya, I'm right there with you on the green waste side effects. I
spray both my green can and compost bowl with a vinegar/water
mix, or solution of Meyer's Clean Day. Meyer's ends the flies
much better and is not toxic. Soak your green can twice/month
with Meyer's or Pine Sol. Good luck!
It's a lot of extra work, but here's how I do it:
I use a paper bag as a liner, but before I put it in, I put in a
handful of those little wood shavings that you use for hamsters
and rabbits and such -- I find that it helps to absorb the
moisture really well. Plus, I empty that thing minimum every two
days, if not every day. Is it a pain in the butt? Yep. But it
keeps down the flies.
If fruit flies are your problem, I have two solutions. One kills
them and one is live-catch.
Killing them: take a jar and put some vinegar in it. Put some
saran wrap over the jar and secure it with a rubber band around
the mouth. Poke a hole or two in the sarah wrap: next morning,
you'll have a bunch of dead fruit flies swimming around in the
Catch and release outside: Take a jar and put some food scraps in
it (banana peels work well... though vinegar might work well,
too). Make a cone out of a piece of paper, and use tape to make
it hold. Make sure that the cone can fit into the jar, but that
it is even on all sides so the flies can't escape. This is kind
of strange to imagine, so email me if you need more details. I
am always amazed that the flies can't find their way out, even
though there is a big open hole in the middle...
I use empty milk cartons to collect the waste, rather than the
hard-to-clean plastic bin they gave us. The whole thing can go
right into the big green bin, which keeps that cleaner, too.
Another option, which I use to collect scraps for our compost
pile (raw vegetation only), is a stainless steel pot. You don't
need a special filtering one - an ordinary soup pot with a lid
will work fine. It can be easily cleaned, and can even go into
the dishwasher. This option still has you tossing the stuff
right into the green can, but you can line the bottom with some
layers of newspaper (if you don't have some leaves in there
already) to reduce the ick factor.
I used to use the green liners for my kitchen green bin but found
that the small ones slip down on the sides leaving a mess, and
the big ones are too big. Also I am not so sure they are really
biodegradable - I think some of those bags don't degrade so much
as break down into tiny bits of plastic. At any rate, I have
found it easier to just stockpile waxed cardboard milk cartons
and keep one on the counter for scraps. After a day or two I just
toss the whole thing into the big green recycling can outside. If
I'm going to have a LOT of food scraps, like at Thanksgiving, I
just use a double-bagged paper grocery bag, and toss the whole
thing into the recycling after dinner.
What I find is easiest is this: before I start preparing a
meal, I spread out two or three newspapers on the kitchen
counter. All food scraps are deposited there. When I'm
cleaning up after dinner, whatever food is getting thrown out
also goes there. Then I wad up the whole thing tightly and it
goes into the yard waste can. No smell, no fuss, no extra
expense. The newspaper wads can even stay in a small lidded
waste can inside the house for a couple of days, unless we've
had fish or cantelope. Both of those I like to get out of the
house as quickly as possible! (I prefer to cook fish the night
before the recycling gets picked up, too.)
Anyone have advice for how to deal with the overwhelming stink
left every week in the debris bins? I'm so glad the kitchen
scraps are going to be composted somewhere, but I'm really
getting tired of the stink in the bin. Thank you.
Loves to recycle
We have the same problem, but my husband has a bigger problem
with it than I do. The only answer is to put your home
compostables into the ''big bin'' every day. I don't, and my
husband hates it, but since I grew up in a world of composting
the smell doesn't bother me. I understand those who don't like
it, but sometimes going a bit more eco means a bit of
discomfort. A week's worth of rotting organic compound (which
isn't much) is worth the smell(it's not that bad, again my in my
opinion),and it hasn't caused any real problems in our tiny 900
square foot cottage.
My neighbor uses newspaper to line the pail each week and dumps
it all out together. That might help some. The other
suggestion I read was to keep the container in the refrigerator
or freezer if you have room, which should stop the stink from
the rapid decomposition. Can't help you with the big bin if
that's the problem. We started composting at home, and the
jury is still out to see how well I'll like that over the long
Stinky bin solution. First off start by soaking the bin
thoroughly with a bleach and water solution, Next I like to
pressure wash them which can be done at a do-it-yourself
carwash if you don't have a pressure washer. A hose with a good
nozzle will suffice if need be. Let the bin dry and it should
now be odor free and like new. Next find a plastic garbage bag
to line the bin. The bag needs to be a little oversize, not
undersize. I use a rubberband or cable ties to secure it so it
is not discarded each week by the garbage pick-up. You may need
to drill a couple small holes in the bin for cable ties around
the top. Poke a couple small holes in the bag to let air bleed
out (use a pencil). I am able to use the same bag as a liner
for many weeks-months until it becomes odorous and I then
discard it and put a fresh liner in my odor free trash bin.
Keeping trash in paper bags in the bin helps keep the liner
clean and long lasting. This method keeps odors down, minimizes
plastic in the landfill, and insures the trash slips out of the
can easily each week. Works for me.
I'm assuming the 'debris bin' is the little green box for
municipal compost. This is how we solved the stinky bin
problem: First, if you can (i.e. if you have a yard) start your
own home compost. This will take care of by far the the great
bulk of your compostables (fruit & veg waste, coffee grounds,
egg shells, tea bags, etc) which will make the amount of stuff
going into the debris bin quite manageable.
But even if it's not possible to do your own composting, my
method may help you. I rinse out and save compostable
containers. These are cardboard-based - like ice cream
containers, take-out cartons (remove metal handles),
milk/juice/cream cartons (no plastic or foil lined ones). I
rinse these cartons and put them outside in the little green
bin. We use them to take the compostable stuff we call 'city
compost'. This is the stuff that is not recommended for home
compost but is fine for municipal compost - e.g. any
meat/fish/chicken scraps, fats, oils, cheese, breads and other
grain products, etc.
When I need a carton, I take it from the green bin and put it
on the kitchen counter and start filling it. I then close it
with the lid (if an ice cream container, for example) or just
fold down the opening if it's a beverage carton. (I keep on the
little plastic bottle caps that are on some cartons so they
stay entirely closeable. Only when I'm ready to put them out on
the curb do I remove these plastic caps.) When one container is
filled I place it - closed and upright - in the little green
debris bin. This way no food waste touches the container. The
night before pickup, I place the contents of the still clean
and dry debris bin into the large yard waste bin.
If we have a lot of stuff - like a lot of paper plates, pizza
boxes, corn cobs etc from a party - then I bag this all in a
brown paper shopping bag and toss it directly in our yard waste
bin. We do not allow food waste to get on any of our bins -
garbage, recycling or yard waste, thus eliminating the source
of stinky smells.
Sorry for the verbosity. Once you have a system it becomes
second nature; easy and painless.
Loves to recycle too
Since cardboard milk cartons and food-contaminated paper can be placed in the
compost bin, I try to collect my compost in a milk carton, or butcher/deli paper, or
pizza box, or sometimes just using a piece of newspaper to line my compost bowl. It's
not perfect but does seem to cut down on some of the goo in the bin. I'm looking
forward to hearing the tips that this post receives from others.
Put your kitchen waste in a compostable plastic bag before
dumping in the green bin, like the ones at Berkeley Natural
Grocery & El Cerrito Natural Grocery (which fit the kitchen pails
quite well). Fire stations in Berkeley also give away compostable
plastic bags for garden waste, which I'm sure would also work
well. Also consider minimizing the amount you're leaving for the
City by starting a worm farm; they'll eat anything bacteria love,
so leave out onions, garlic, citrus, and if they're fussy, like
mine, tomatoes. Your plants will love the compost! If you live in
Alameda County, you can buy a subsidized bin at this link:
We had the same problem and I couldn't stand it. My husband
finally took a hoe to it and scraped off the sides, then he put
a water and vinagre solution to it and let it sit. We did keep
putting stuff in that week and when the garbage man came, he
was out there to greet him. The garbage man dumped it, my
husband hosed it off again and had him dump it again. Hope
that helps...ours no longer stinks!
I had the same issue until I saw a neighbor's Biobags. They're
compostable and made to the size of our 3-gallon bins. I bought a
case on-line. I've seen them for sale at the Farmers Mkt. at the
Ecology Center table. http://www.biobagusa.com/
i had the same problem, sunny warm days we the worst. i've been
using biodegradable drain cleaner according to the package.
earth enzymes is one and drainbo is the other. i sprinkle some
in the bottom of the bin right after the garbage is picked up.
it's helped with the smell and the ants too. i bought drainbo
at whole foods and earth enzymes at farmer joes. good luck.
This may seem extreme, but we put our stinky (not home
compostable) food scraps into milk cartons, paper bags, empty
recyclable ice cream cartons, etc. and refrigerate or freeze them
till the day before pickup. Then we toss the whole thing in the
bin, on top of a layer of yard waste and under one.
I gave up on the little green food scrap pail after just a week
or two for that reason. My solution was to put a small paper bag
(say, lunch-bag size) on the kitchen counter and put my debris in
there, then dump the entire bag into the green pail when it got
full and put out a new bag. It won't work for really wet food,
but since it's open to the air and doesn't stay around very long,
there's no odor problem, and there's no pail to try to clean out.
Of course, you're throwing out an extra paper bag, but I figured
that it's better to waste a bag if I'm thereby composting all its
contents. Besides, I accumulate a lot of those bags that would
just get recycled anyway -- perhaps you do too.
It doesn't look great on the kitchen counter, and I stopped doing
it after a while because I was kind of lazy about taking the bags
out when they filled up and it drove my husband crazy when they
stayed on the counter, full, for a day or two. But it might be
the solution you're looking for, if you can be more regular about
taking the bags out than I was!
I recently moved to a home that has an in-sink disposal system
and I have been very happy to grind away small amounts of
veggies and fruit scraps. Since it is so easy to do, it got me
wondering if this was not the best thing for the environment.
(Easy tends to have a catch!)Is it better to grind waste or
collect it as scraps for the green bins?
I am devoted to the green bin (we live in Oakland) which is a fabulously easy
alternative, and I have not yet seen a ''catch.''
If you live in Oakland and have the WM green bin I recommend going with that - you
can put ALL of your food scraps,oil,grease, bones plus food paper (pizza boxes, take
out containers) in to the bucket, WM takes it away and cooks it down to a compost that
is used as an alternative to chemical fertilizer. It also cuts way down on the amount of
garbage so ultimately will reduce your monthly costs as well.
The sink drain is absolutely the worst place to put food waste.
Composting it in green waste is the best, but if you don't do
that, it's better to put it in the garbage than down the
disposal. Two reasons: First, garbage disposed of down the
drain winds up in the ocean -- this is a bigger environmental
problem than the landfill, where it will ''compost'' eventually
(although it will be wasted). Second, garbage down residential
and restaurant sink drains is a major cause of clogged sewer
pipes, which cause sewage back-ups that spew even worse stuff
into our oceans and result in beach closures. To prevent this,
you should put as little food as possible down the drain, and you
should avoid pouring grease down the drain at all costs.
''Dry-wipe'' your grease covered pots and pans and throw the greasy
paper towels into the green waste for compost.
I just read a book that discussed this, among lots of other
interesting things. In ''Organic Housekeeping'' by Ellen Sanbeck
(Scribner 2006), she says composting your kitchen waste is a
much more environmentally sound and efficient way to deal with
food waste than using the garbage disposal. Although garbage
disposals are very convenient, ''the excess organic material
they wash down the drain can strain the capacity of sewage
treatment systems, deplete oxygen in waterways, prematurely
clog septic systems, and last but not least, feed sewer rats
that thrive on the prechewed, piped-in diet delivered to them
via garbage disposals.'' Yuck!
I love my new little green food scrap recycling container that
Waste Management has provided. But, I hate cleaning it out
every week! Does anyone know if anyone makes an insert for
those that can be purchased and that is also able to be put
into the yard waste container? And, if there isn't already
something out there - calling all buisness folks - someone
could make a mint by making one...Thanks,
I don't have any recommendation for an insert except what we're
doing currently. We put a large handfull of shredded paper
waste (from our paper shredder) in the bottom of the mini-
greenie. This makes emptying it much simpler because then food
waste doesn't cling to the bottom. And shredded paper is pretty
worm-friendly. We empty the mini-greenie into a paper bag when
it gets full and place it in the large curbside greenie. No
muss, no fuss - and no big smell, all recycleable!
Try lining the green kitchen bin with newspaper. It's better
than buying something to throw away! (My pet peeve with all
I just line mine with an old newspaper section - works great and
okay to put in green waste, as far as I know.
I purchased some biodegradable bags from Gardeners Supply
online. Here is a link to the bags. They worked great.
I just put a brown paper bag or newspaper inside first. I empty every other day, and
it seems to work fine.
Like you, I love the little green bin and hate having to wash it
every week. I looked very carefully on the picture and it
appears that newspapers are OK to go into it. So I find a new
use for my recycle newspapers and have been lining my green bin
I got a tupperware container that fits inside the green bin so I just empty that and
rinse it but don't clean it that thoroughly. It stinks a bit but since it is sealed you
can't smell it. I look forward to hearing others ideas.
If your service is the same as Albany's (I assume it is, since
both are Waste Management), you can use milk cartons. It doesn't
fill the whole green thing, but you can just replace it when it's
full (assuming you drink milk or soy-milk or juice from
cartons!). I actually bought an asparagus pot to use, since I
like to keep it on the counter, and it's much prettier on my
counter than the green mini-garbage can. I fold down the top of
the milk carton, and it's almost a perfect fit. Asparagus pots
are generally pretty pricey, but it was on clearance at Macy's
around this time last year (after peak asparagus season), for a
I was having the same problems with smell and hating cleaning
the green bin. Now we just don't use it at all. Instead we take
brown paper grocery bags, and fold one down to line to bottom
of another so liquid doesn't seep through. We toss everything
in there and contrary to what you'd think, it takes more than a
couple of days before we notice any smell. Probably because
it's not closed shut. Then we can just toss the whole thing in
the green compost can. This makes for less smell, fewer trips
out to garbage, no mess to clean up, and a good use for those
I'm looking for a compost container that we can keep indoors -
once it fills up, it will end up in our larger outdoor
container. Can anyone recommend one for inside that is as odor-
free as possible? We've had some problems with ants, so it
really needs to be odor-free and easy-to-clean.
I have tried various methods of saving up compost indoors and the
best no-stink, no-flies technique I've found is freezing it until
I get around to taking it outside. Just put it into a plastic
produce bag, twist it closed and throw it in the freezer. An
added plus is that, after it's frozen solid, you can hurl it
against the kitchen counter and it will break up into tiny frozen
shards that can then be compressed to make more room for another
load. Very satisfying! And, small bits will decompose faster
than big pieces in your compost bin.
I use a pretty, simple, medium-size stainless steel stock pot
with lid. I keep it on my counter. I don't use any filters, and
I often leave the lid off; except in really hot weather, that
seems to keep it drier, so less prone to smelliness. (well,
except when I get lazy and leave it way too long before emptying
Assuming you compost ONLY raw fruit and vegetable scraps, and
empty it every few day, ants and odor shouldn't be a problem.
Cooked cerals and animal product scraps get smelly and attract
ants, and aren't recommended for urban compost piles because they
attract rodents. (But you CAN include them in your food waste
can if you live in Albany).
One more comment about my stainless steel compost pot - It
doesn't absorb smells like plastic, and it's really easy to
clean, either with hot soapy water or in the dishwasher. I got
it really cheap at Macy's (discontinued, or mismatched, or
We got ours a few years ago through a catalogue. I'm sure you
can get one on line, or even at Smith Hawkens.
Ours has this filter thing on the lid (It's essentially a green
square bucket with a handle and a lid). It doesn't smell and
the ants don't seem to like vegies and fruit. It wasn't
expensive either. We rinse it out when we empty it and now and
then we put it through the dish washer. Good luck.
Put something in the freezer. This is working amazingly at my
house. We use a cut open milk carton, but anything works. No
smell, no mess, no ants. You'll be thrilled.
I used to buy these for our small under the sink green
composting bin from ''Real Goods'' behind REI (Gilman and San
Pablo) but see that the store has closed up. Can anyone tell me
where I can purchase the squares from now?
I just check the website for Real Goods. You can order the
filters for the green kitchen compost bin for $6.00 for a
package of three.
I found those charcoal squares online by searching for ''compost''
or ''composter'' or something. There are a number of garden
supply type places that offer this sort of thing as
accessories. I can't remember how they were listed, but I
bought a pack of 6 or so for a reasonable price.
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