It's out of the bag
Fine Mess: Houston's new required compost bags are no easy find
The City of Houston 's taken a big step toward becoming more recycling friendly. Too bad it's harder than it should be for the public to fall in line.
Houston officials recently announced that residents who bag their grass clippings and other yard trimmings will have to do so in compostable garbage bags or risk substantial fines beginning April 5. If organic waste is not bagged in the city-approved compostable bags, it won't get picked up. Worse, you'll face a fine ranging from $50 to $2,000.
The problem? It's not the expense, although the biodegradable bags are more pricey than their less environmentally friendly counterparts (five bags go for about five bucks), it's that they're incredibly elusive. The City of Houston published a list of retailers on its Web site, but neither of the Krogers we called (at River Oaks Shopping Center and on Memorial) — which were both on the city's official list of retailers — carried the bags.
But there are options. Bering's says they've got bags to spare, and you can always opt to "grasscycle," says the city.
Shouldn't the bags for a required city policy be where the city says they are though?
City officials say that this compost-bag requirement will save $1.5 million annually, and that the savings will be used to expand other recycling programs.
Traditional garbage bags take more than 100 years to break down, while compostable bags begin decomposing in around three months.
Our non-public relations jargon advice: Just don't bag at all.
Start a backyard compost pile or opt to take the bagging attachment off your standard mower and leave your grass clippings on the lawn. It'll mean nutrients for your soil, savings for the city and more money in your pocket. You'll save on the bags and on the gas money you'll spend looking for the darn things.
Or expect to be calling around — these bags aren't always where they're supposed to be.