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Here are some useful tips and helpful hints to help you make your experience with the organics program successful.


KEEPING IT unstuck: how to keep material from freezing in the organics cart

Food scraps freezing to the bottom and sides of the organics cart is a problem we here in Wisconsin must face. So here's some methods that may help in your home. But don't be afraid to be brave and try some other methods in your home, too. And if they work, share them so everyone can benefit.

Pre-freezing food waste items before putting them into the cart helps a great deal.  After freezing, you can the food waste into a paper bag.  Or, even pre-freeze the scraps in the paper bag.

You can also use a paper bag, or wrap food waste in newspaper, in order to create a barrier between the cart and the food waste so they do not freeze together. And an organics program volunteer suggested giving the paper bag a little tug before placing the cart to the curb for pick up. The little tug helps ensure the bag isn't stuck to the bottom of the cart.

Johanna, a hopeful organics volunteer, suggests using cardboard egg cartons to hold some food waste since they may prove more absorbent than paper bags. You may also want to place a cardboard carton open and on the bottom of the cart that may prevent the material from freezing directly to the bottom of the cart.

Eunice, an organics volunteer, found that that if you place a layer of newspaper in the bottom of the cart, and then put a paper bag of food scraps on top of the layer of newspaper, that helps prevent sticking.

getting it unstuck: what to do if it's already frozen inside

To remove frozen food scraps from the cart, you may want to take a regular shovel and scrap the material out and place it into a paper grocery store bag.  Then place the bag of food scraps back into the cart. 

Lucy, an organics volunteer, also noted that you could also wait it out until the temperatures rise and the material thaws.

compostable biofilm Bags

March 2018 UPDATE:

As noted in the mailed update to all program volunteers, biofilm bags are an acceptable alternative to paper bags. Using paper bags or going bagless is preferred.

Compostable bags can be purchased at following locations:

They can also be purchased through online vendors. You may be able to find them at other local vendors, so ask your grocery or hardware store of choice about the possibility of carrying the bags for purchase. If your grocery or hardware store begins carrying the bags (or already does) contact us and let us know where else they can be purchased in Madison and we will update this web site with more stores.

If you do not know if your bag is compostable or not, do not use it. It is better to err on the side of certainty.

Keep in mind that biodegradable and compostable do not mean the same thing, so for the organics program, you need to choose compostable bags if you elect to use them.

Alternatives to Compostable biofilm Bags

You could go bagless. Bags are not a requirement for the program, though that could make your cart and kitchen collector dirty and could require regular cleaning.

You could also use paper bags, such as lining your organics cart with a sturdy kraft paper leaf bag, or using smaller sturdy paper bags for your kitchen collector. You could line the kitchen collector with newspaper, or use newspaper to line the bottom of the cart.

From Eunice, an organics participant: Brown sandwich bags inside the kitchen collector work, too. Pinch the top closed with a clothes pin until it's time for it to go out to the curbside cart to help keep down smells.


Odor control

Regular washing of the kitchen collector and cart will help prevent odors.

Sprinkling baking soda into the cart and collector will also help tame persistent smells.

If you are discarding something that will be particularly smelly (for example: fish), consider wrapping that in newspaper individually and then placing it into the bag in the kitchen collector (effectively double bagging it without using two compostable bags). Or, after wrapping it up, place it into the freezer then place it in the organics cart when it is time to roll it to the curb.


washing the cart & collector

Soap and water will do the trick for both the collector and the cart. For the curbside cart, after you spray it out with your garden hose, please dump the gray water into your lawn rather than in the gutter.

If you have a more persistent spot in your collector to clean, and really want to scrub it clean, you may want to consider using a homemade creamy soft scrub.

More ideas?

Don't forget to check and post to the the Q&A section of the organics page, and feel free to send an email to share what you've learned or techniques you've adopted to make your experience with the organics program successful.

Subscribe to the Household Organics Collection email list:

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Chicken Bones