Kitchen Pail? No Thanks.


There’s a great piece on NPR about the poor guy whose job it is to convince Los Angeles to separate food scraps from other garbage.  I love the first guy he encounters:  "Essentially, it’s all garbage.  You want me to have a meal, separate my garbage, and I’m already separating my cans and bottles and separating my lawn clippings–what’s next?  You want me to separate my feces now?"

Not that I’m against recycling food scraps. Quite the opposite.  Although I’d rather see the city encourage compost piles or worm bins instead of sending a truck around to pick it all up.  Still, you gotta sympathize with the poor guy who thinks he’s doing more than his part with all this separating of trash.

Reminds me of this Penn & Teller video in which they try to convince Southern Californians to separate their garbage into no less than nine separate containers:


  1. We do this already (shrug). No big deal. There’s a small bucket next to the sink. When we’re scraping plates everything that can go on a compost pile is put in the bucket, or taken out to the chickens. The bucket is emptied regularly, so does not smell.

  2. A couple of years ago Toronto residents got the Green Bin and kitchen compost pail. All the stuff we used to toss, like meat scraps, fats and bones, pasta, animal poops, disposable diapers, etc. is now picked up weekly, while recycling and garbage are collected on alternate weeks. Designated bins for everything. Works OK.

  3. Seattle’s close to sorting all food scraps out as well. Vegie scraps and pizza boxes are invited into the yard waste pick up bin. Soon all scraps will be compostable through the city pick up as well. And guess what? Not only do we have the honor or paying to have it picked up, but we can also pay a second time to have it delivered back as mulched compost.

    I keep a big tupperware on the kitchen counter for this waste, and it goes out to our worm bin first, which fills fast. If the worms are already full at their feast, the deposit goes in the yard waste bin. Here in rat city keeping a non-closed system food waste pile isn’t a good idea. Why? Keyword: rats.

    Oh and you verbena lovers…I’ll get up those recipes as soon as I can…

  4. Apparently tomorrow, October 10, NPR’s Talk of the Nation – Science Friday, will have a discussion on this general subject, 2-4pm. Check to locate your local radio station.

    Off topic (sorry!), yesterday I got to see Talk of the Nation’s Monday-Thursday host, Neal Conan, husband of Liane Hansen, doing the show live from Columbus. He’s a voracious reader, has an incredible memory, and multitasks like a demon. Plus he’s hot, in an intellectual cuddly kind of way.

  5. We do this already too. The small pot with lid doesn’t smell and gets dumped into worm bin (ongoing since 1995)every couple of days. Major benefit is a (rotting) food-free trash can.

  6. I need help on this! My county recycles plastics,glass and paper, vacuums leaves in fall and returns them as leaf mulch; I have a compost bin where I dump my veggie scraps, my plant stuff etc. If I were to buy a worm bin, what would I be able to put into it? And where would I keep it? Do I put meat and table scraps into it including bones? Can I keep it in the pantry? Should it go in the basement? Do the little guys need light? Help!

    The county is promising more extensive recycling efforts next year, but for now I would really really like to know. Any thoughts?

  7. Like the other Torontonian who commented, we got used to the “green bin” separation very quickly. The key is to organize yourself so that it’s really easy. In no time, you simply get in the habit. The amount of waste which goes to landfill from our house is way less than it was a couple years ago.

  8. I wish they would recycle in our town – they already provide many excellent low cost or no cost services for the seniors and children and the streets and alleys are kept extremely clean but the town does not wish to promote recyling. I was told by one official it’s because town feels that our immigrant population will not separate trash.

    I think that is completely backwards thinking. If anything, I think folks in 2nd & 3rd world countries have been, as absolute necessity, well ahead of any of our recyling programs. Someone else made mention of the food recycling that goes on in Mexico City as a point.

    But then again, look how long it took to get the city of Chicago to do away with the stupid blue bag program and start working with recyling bins.

  9. My in-laws lived with us for a while (as our tenants) and they thought recyclying was part of some “liberal” scam i.e. government telling people how they should live. My husband and I could never figure out how to get them to recycle…sigh. I still don’t understand how recyclying became so politicized.

  10. I have a worm bin. I keep it in my kitchen and it doesn’t smell, although occasionally I get fruit flies. I feed the worms fruit and vegetable scraps and things like rice. Also coffee grounds and tea bags. And clothes made from natural fibers. Recently one of my sons was horrified when I declared a pair of his underpants worn out, ripped off the waist band, dampened them in the sink and put them in the worm bin.
    The worms detest light. You have to keep the bin in the light to keep them from leaving until they learn that the bin is their new home.

  11. All I can say is I’m glad (and lucky) I live in the country where I can have my own compost pile, and worm bin, and make Withdrawals from the transfer station when I need cardboard for garden paths.

Comments are closed.