I’m an optimist. That’s the positive spin I’m putting on why I thought I could fit a “small” exterior landscape wall demolition into a single Bagster. If you’re not familiar with the Bagster, it’s a 8’x4’x2.5′ “bag” you load up with junk and debris. You can buy the bags at your local home improvement store for around $30, load them up, and then schedule to have the full bagster hauled away at your convenience. I found it to be a great, flexible service, but if you’re considering using it, there are a few things you should know before you turn your back on the more traditional roll off dumpster rental.
As you’re evaluating whether a Bagster is the right fit for you, first, let’s go over some of the basics. The Bagster isn’t available in all areas, so step one is to make sure they service your area. You can do that by entering your zip in the “Price It and Buy It” box on TheBagster.com. If you’re not greeted with a message saying they don’t service your area, keep reading.
Bagster Pricing – Including Pickups
After the $30 per bag price to buy the bag itself, you’ll need to figure out pricing for the pickup (see the link above). On average Waste Management, the company behind the bag, says the average Bagster pickup cost is $140. They also discount additional pickups if you’re doing more than one pickup at a time – something I unfortunately discovered when my optimism over what I could fit hit the reality of my project. In San Diego, the first bag pickup was $199 with any additional bags picked up at the same time at a discounted rate of $149. We saw references to some areas offering pickup for under $100 which makes the Bagster a smokin’ deal.
It’s embarrassing to say, but the project I THOUGHT I could fit into a single bag ultimately more than filled four Bagsters! In fact, the aftermath of the project might lead me to order “just one more Bagster.” In my case, a regular dumpster rental probably would have been a bit cheaper. However rates on dumpster rentals (also known as bins or roll-offs) are not only regional, but can also vary highly depending on the company you use, the type of dumpster you rent, and what material(s) you’re filling it with. Some dumpster rental companies also add surcharges for excess weight (of the junk, not your body weight).
With about 800 reviews currently on Amazon, a whopping 33,000 reviews on Home Depot’s website, 32,000+ reviews on Lowes and almost 38,000 reviews on TheBagster.com site itself, it’s clear a lot of people have used the service. On Amazon it has a 4 out of 5 star average, on Home Depot it’s 4.5 (same with Lowes) and on the Bagster website it’s 4.6. In general, people really like the service.
In terms of negative reviews, they tended to revolve around collection issues (additional charges for missed collections, refusal to pickup bagsters due to access or over-filling, etc. As long as you are in the service area and comply with their guidelines of what you can and can’t do with the Bagster, you have a great shot at success. A few tips to avoid any unwanted drama:
First things first, you need to place the Bagster on your property. Most cities don’t appreciate them being left on the sidewalk or street, and your neighbor probably doesn’t want one in their front yard either. Once safely located on your property, it needs to be at least five feet away from any structure or vehicle – especially your Lamborghini. You do NOT want a Bagster swinging around your Lambo. Leading up to your Bagster, you also need 18 feet of clearance from trees, structures and especially wires (cranes and wires don’t play well together). You can place the bag on your yard, driveway, or even inside a low fence – but consult with Bagster as each option has restrictions.
What You can Stick in a Bagster
According to Bagster, heavy stuff like asphalt, brick, concrete, dirt, rock, sand, sod and stucco) are all A-OK as long as you don’t put in more than one cubic yard or exceed weight limits. Household waste (no food, it’s not a garbage disposal) and construction debris are acceptable as well.
The list of no-go’s is a tad longer and includes: appliances, asbestos (you didn’t really think you could do that, did you?), batteries, chemicals (sorry DuPont), electronics, fluorescent bulbs / ballasts (ewww, mercury), fuel, toxic/hazardous waste (contact your friendly local EPA rep), hot materials (no coffee!), medical waste (gross), oil (this isn’t the Alaskan Wildlife refuge, OK?), paint, propane tanks (boom!), railroad ties (bow ties, neck ties and zip ties are OK), tires, large stumps (tiny little stumps are fine though).
Loading Up Your Bagster(s)
Once you have your Bagster, channel your Origami-hating skills, then unfold it. This process may bring back horrible family camping memories involving tents, but the Bagster is a lot easier to set up than tents. Stick yourself in the Bagster once unfolded, (don’t forget to get out before the truck comes) and fold the sides in half to create a little rigidity. If you’re filling it with any heavy stuff, start with that in the bottom and work your way up. The space goes fast, so I advise you to fill efficiently without a lot of wasted air space. Bring the sides of the bag up as you go and make sure there isn’t a ton of stuff sticking up over the top edge. Make especially sure the giant yellow straps can meet in the middle above your Bagster so the crane can snatch it without the driver getting angry with you.
This is one area a dumpster is easier to deal with – no unfolding, propping up sides, etc. You still have to load dumpsters efficiently, but because of their rigid sides, you don’t need to monkey around with adjusting them as you fill the load, or worrying about the loading straps. Score one point for traditional dumpsters in terms of ease of loading.
The Bagster Pickup Process
Once you are finished (or almost finished) filling your Bagster, you have two options. You can either call 1-877-789-2247 and schedule a pickup by phone, or you can create an account at TheBagster.com. In our case, once I scheduled online, my appointment was 3 days later. However on our collection day, Bagster didn’t show. I called customer service, they apologized, and the Bagster truck/crane combo was here the next day.
The Bagster truck sports a very large bed with raised sides and a handy crane which makes lifting the bagsters into the air a whole lot easier than trying to do it by hand, Hulk-style. I have to confess I was worried the driver might hassle me for the Bagsters being “slightly” over the edge height or for weighing too much, but the straps were easy for him to access for the crane and the truck didn’t topple over when lifting the heavier ones. He also may have taken one look at the FOUR Bagsters and taken pity on me.
In promotional photos the Bagster looks like a perfect rectangle. In reality, ours looked like giant, green tacos once they were hoisted into the air. The driver picking up ours carefully lifted the Bagsters and expertly navigated them into the truck bed (which already had a couple other Bagsters in it. In a matter of minutes, they were off our driveway and on their way to bag heaven, or maybe just the dump.
All in all, the Bagster service offers a lot of flexibility at a reasonable price – less reasonable if you order one after another like I did, although the additional simultaneous pick-ups saved me some money on the pickup fees. The next time you decide to tear apart part of your house or yard, check into the rates for Bagster and see how they compare to a dumpster rental. Which reminds me, I think I need to order “just one more” Bagster!
You can buy the Bagster for about $30 online (not including pickup cost – make sure they service your area first):