Holding the Bag

— The following text is transcribed from an interview with Querc, a town resident and occasional volunteer at the welcoming center —

“Heh-ehm. Is it on? Yeah? Oh, ok.

Alright, so the Bags… this one kind of stuck around. Sure I mean there are a lot of different currencies here and this one is a little strange… for one, the value isn’t fixed – like, it’s kind of a gamble to be the last person holding a Bag?

What, why?

Well… the name did kind of begin as a joke. Starting off, the composters weren’t that consistently good at their jobs. Maybe there was too much nitrogen and not enough carbon and the pile would overheat, collapse, and turn anaerobic. Maybe it would get watered too heavily, maybe it never decomposed because it was mostly woodchips and paper… No, no I’m not saying the co-op is bad at their job but shit happens you know? We all learn.

Anyway if the pile didn’t turn out well and you had bought into it you were stuck holding the bag. Funny too because each certificate was initially worth a literal burlap bag’s worth of soil. Haha! see what they did there?

Ok maybe that’s not such a good joke.

Now they’re worth a percent share of the specific pile. Sometimes you can get lucky with them, because the piles are different sizes! One week I showed up to drop-off hours with five whole barrels of kimchi gone bad. That stuff was just so wet they had to mix in just absolute buckets of chips. I swear the pile was higher than my head when they got done. Whoever bought into that pile got more in their Bag than they expected – if they held onto it.

What’s that?

Oh yeah that’s the thing – the Bag certificates people can be traded or gifted or stolen, gambled, even borrowed against. If you have the certificate, you get a piece of that specific compost pile when it’s finished. That means you can trade that eventual piece with anyone who will trade with you.

You can’t hold on to a Bag forever though. I mean you could but the certificates lose their value after their pile is finished and distributed. And if you show up with your token a month late you get nothing because your share’s been mixed into the next pile, given away, or used by a cooperative member for some libidinous purpose. They don’t store it for you – they can’t! The compost itself changes over time, it has to get used!

The Bags are a pretty decent way to stop people from hoarding too, so, there’s that!”


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