Bagster - Review
An inevitable byproduct of tinkering around on your house is something known in English as 'trash.' Scraps of sheet rock, cut-offs, demo'd materials, etc. For the big jobs, you go and get a dumpster, for the small ones, you cut everything up into small pieces and use contractor bags. But what about those mid-sized projects like a big set of built-ins or relocating a wall? The answer used to be: "find a friend with a pickup truck who lives in a town with a lax dump policy," but now, the answer may very well be, 'get a Bagster." Waste Management, who runs the Bagster program, was nice enough to let us fill one up for a review and here's what we found...
First off, we have to say that in addition to the Bagster (and a no-charge pickup), Waste Management sent us a $500 gift card in order to cover expenses so that we could fill up the Bagster. So we'll take a moment to share our feelings on the gift card. Our initial thought at this offering was, "whoa, bribe!" But then we started thinking about it and it began to make sense. A Bagster can hold a lot of trash (3 cubic yards) and to get that kind of debris in a reasonable amount of time, you need a project or two. If you're only filling it with refuse from small little projects, you're going to have this thing sitting on your lawn for a loooong time. As it was, we made some built-ins, demo'd a wall in the basement, cleaned out the shop a few times (decimated the scrap lumber pile), built a little kitchen for Tool Snob Jr., and did some other various projects around the house and it took about six months to fill the Bagster up. So, the bottom line is that if Waste Management wanted this review in a timely manner, the gift card is a necessity. It got us going on a few good sized "waste creation' projects, but even then, it's still taken a while to fill the bag. Has it tainted our review? We think not, but that's up to you to decide...
So anyway on to the review...
What is a Bagster?
It's a small dumpster made out of a heavy-duty tarp material, like the stuff that they use for those temporary garages that are popular these days. The bag has a handle strap on each side, like a wood carry. Once the bag is filled, just call Waste Management and they'll come and pick it up for a flat fee (to check the price in your area go here, ours would have cost $139). Empty Bagsters are available for about $30, so our total investment would have been around $190. Each Bagster can hold three cubic yards of waste.
We got ours in the middle of the summer and for months we loaded it up and up and up. Then we loaded it some more, and then some more on top of that. Then it snowed about a foot and the next day we called Waste Management to come and pick it up.
A few thoughts about the Bagster:
1. The Bagster is great in a lot of ways, but we're going to start with the most important one: Mrs. Tool Snob, for some unknown reason, doesn't seem to mind six months of an ever-increasing pile of garbage in her driveway, if (and only if) it is surrounded by a green bag made out of heavy-duty tarp material. Seriously. Under any normal circumstances, Mrs. Tool Snob would have gutted us stem to stern after about three weeks with a debris pile in front of the garage. But because it was semi-contained in a green baggie, it was somehow OK. A full-sized dumpster wouldn't have been OK, and that very same pile, just without the bag, wouldn't have been OK either. Add the green bag...OK.
2. If you're thinking about getting one, make sure to read the FAQ at the Bagster website, particularly the part about where you can and cannot place a Bagster. If your Bagster is inaccessible by the crane truck that comes to pick it up, you're pretty much out of luck. There are overhead clearances to be aware of as well as 'distance from the driveway' measurements.
3. Be smart about stuffing the Bagster. We spent a year as low man on the jobsite totem pole and in that time we were forced to master the fine art of 'dumpster crushing.' Countless times, and in the worst weather imaginable, we'd be sent out to 'get another 10% out of the dumpster.' There's a certain way to fill a dumpster and about 1000 ways not to do it. Because the Bagster is so inexpensive, maximizing the space is particularly satisfying, you'll feel like you're really getting your money's worth.
The Bagster worked out great for us and with another renovation planned in the next couple months and we're considering getting another one. It's a painless process and three cubic yards goes a long way. The driver who did the pick-up (Pete) told us that they're really popular in the suburbs and that roofers like them a lot too because they can get three or four of them and plop them right on the lawn in places where you'd never dare put a roll-off dumpster.
So when it comes down to it, we think that the bagster is great. But we also know that our dump has a pretty good policy on construction debris (a truck-load is $20), so if we're willing to load up our trash and haul it away, a Bagster isn't really worth it. But dump policies differ and some people don't even have access to one, so it's a matter of figuring out if it's something that works for you. It's a great option to have for the city/suburb dweller who might have limited space or a contractor with a small job. It's also nice that you own the bag outright and there's no rental fee, like on a regular dumpster.
UPDATE: Make sure to check out what Paul says in the comments section. He's got another great use for the bagster.
To get all the information you need on the Bagster, go to TheBagster.com.
Bagsters available at Amazon.com
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at January 21, 2011 6:00 AM