Portland, perfect for people who have no life
A reader sends along an interesting exchange that his wife had with the Portland planning and sustainability bureau yesterday. It started when she posted this on a city web page that invited readers to "Submit a Garbage, Recycling or Composting Question":
This is not a question, but a complaint regarding every other week garbage pickup. As a small family of 3 with one in diapers and 2 dogs, I have never been a fan of the increased time during collection. We had to upgrade the size of our can and therefore have to pay more even though now we are provided with less service.
The smell surrounding the bins and when depositing bags into our garbage receptacle is putrid. This disgusting smell from both our cans and our neighbors wafts into our home. There have been an increasing number of flies and other bugs near our bins. During the summer heat that we've been having, this is just completely unsanitary. We pay money for a sanitation service and I don't feel that it is being adequately provided.
We have been noticing at times that the entire neighborhood reeks of garbage! It is disgusting.
I hope the city strongly considers at least making it an option to return to weekly garbage service.
She got back a remarkable response -- preposterous, really:
RE: City of Portland TrackIT Submission: Office of Sustainable Development Item 618409
Thank you for contacting Waste Info.
I’m sorry to hear that you’re having problems with fruit flies. I know they can be very annoying. Fruit flies are common in kitchen areas, but there are ways to control them and make your kitchen a less desirable home for them. There are also ways to manage your composting cart outside to deter flies. We did answer questions about fruit flies from a few customers during the summer months of the pilot. So far, we’ve had success in controlling them. Additionally we’ve learned some tips from businesses such as restaurants that keep large amounts of food scraps in their kitchen areas for composting.
Inside the house:
First, keep your kitchen pail tightly closed when you are not using it. You may want to store your pail in a cabinet when you are not actively using it. Also it is important to empty your pail frequently into your Portland Composts! Roll cart. You may choose to use a kitchen pail liner such as newspaper, paper bag or approved compostable bag. This will cut down on some of the mess in the pail. After you dump your food scraps into your composting cart, be sure to rinse and dry kitchen pail before starting to use it again. If fruit flies persist, you may decide to trap them. You can do this by filling a small jar with apple cider vinegar, covering the jar with plastic wrap. Secure the plastic wrap to the jar with a rubber band and poke a few holes in the top of the plastic. Fruit flies will be attracted to the vinegar and once inside the jar, won’t be able to get back out. Remember, fruit flies are attracted to fruit that has gone bad, so if you store fruit in the house, be sure to keep an eye on it and quickly compost any pieces that may have spoiled.
Outside the house:
You can wipe the inside of the cart lid with essential oils such as citronella, clove or tea tree oil, which are natural insect repellents. You may want to consider layering your food waste with yard debris (lasagna style) or adding sheets of newspaper before and after you place food scraps in the cart. Keeping food scraps contained (and less accessible) to fruit flies is easier if you use a kitchen pail liner. If possible, store the cart in the shade. Some residents found, during the pilot, that sprinkling baking soda in their carts helped keep odors down which makes the cart less attractive to flies. Perhaps the most important action is setting out the cart weekly for collection. When the cart is empty you can place a pizza delivery box or newspaper in the bottom to soak up liquid and help ensure that all items fall out of the cart when it is tipped into the truck.
We have lots of tips on our web site about cleaning the kitchen pail and the composting cart including a couple of short instructional videos. You can access these resources at http://www.portlandonline.com/bps/index.cfm?c=47246&a=371147
A helpful hint for the garbage cart outside: first be sure to rinse any food container before placing on the curb. If you eliminate the food source, the flies will cease to gather. I make a habit out of rinsing out cans and food take out containers before placing in the can.
I know change can be difficult. But every step we take to reduce what is being taken to the landfills is a step in the right direction. When the program first started I was very sure that it would not work for me. I wasn’t happy about the every other week garbage pickup, as I have cats. After a month or two, I realized that it was actually working for my family. I was making more conscious efforts to take recyclable items out of the garbage cart, and place in the blue recycle bin. That alone made a huge difference. Once I started taking out food scraps faithfully, we were able to actually reduce our service to every 4 weeks. We’ve had it through this summer, and one of the things I changed to help reduce odor was to scoop the litter box more frequently, double bagging smaller portions, and sprinkling baking soda in the bag before I seal it.
We line our cart with the daily paper, and then a couple times a month my husband hoses out the cart.
We do appreciate hearing from people, whether it’s comments and concerns, or helpful hints.
I hope the information above with help with the pest issues.
Our incredulous correspondent reacts thusly:
-- My wife doesn’t mention fruit flies in the kitchen, but the City does in its definitely un-canned response.
-- I would love to know what “success” they have had in controlling flies around garbage cans with two-week old diapers.
-- Annette’s husband must be very dedicated. If you believe Annette, although they only have their garbage picked up once a month (which must mean her cat litter has been baking for four weeks in the sun), her husband lines the cart with newspaper and sprays the garbage can out a couple of times a month. Really? He lines the garbage can, puts garbage in, takes garbage out, hoses out the garbage can, re-lines the garbage can with newspaper, replaces garbage into the can, puts more garbage in, takes garbage out, hoses out the garbage can, re-re-lines the garbage can with newspapers, re-replaces garbage into the can, and then the garbage is picked up by the City? Wash. Rinse. Repeat. X2. Hilarious if true.
There are a million laughs in Portland, so long as you don't live there.