Busting the garbage disposal myth

Federal Way resident Katie Drengson chooses to collect food scraps to place in her yard waste cart instead of using the garbage disposal. - Courtesy photo
Federal Way resident Katie Drengson chooses to collect food scraps to place in her yard waste cart instead of using the garbage disposal.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

When talking about composting food scraps, I often hear: “But I have a garbage disposal.”

Is this really the ultimate way to manage your food scraps? Let’s bust the myth that says putting food through the disposal is the best place for it.

True, in-sink disposals can be more convenient to dispose of food than trucking it to the landfill. But nowadays in King County, we have curbside organics collection — one of the few places in the country that offer it. Plus, there are lots of resources to make home composting easier like discounted kitchen scrap buckets and worm bins to “compost” food scraps available through the city. Both of these options are better for the environment than running the disposal just to deal with apple cores and potato peels.

Let’s pop open the drain plug and see why: Food scraps that grind their way through the disposal become small pieces “suspended” in water for the long pipe-ride to a waste water treatment plant. The treatment plant must do a lot of things before the waste water becomes clean enough for release into Puget Sound. All those extra food particles make a lot of additional work at the plant — which means more time, energy, additives and, ultimately, money.

Speaking of food-type items going down the drain: Remember to never pour grease down your drain because it could solidify and cause backups. The best thing to do is to pour the grease in a can, then place it in the garbage once it’s solidified.

“A rind is a terrible thing to waste” is one my favorite sayings when it comes to managing food scraps. Food scraps should not be seen as garbage — instead they become a wonderful resource only a few steps away from becoming beneficial compost. So, resolve to compost your food scraps, either in your curbside yard debris cart or in your home compost bin, and reserve the in-sink disposal just for the crumbs from the final rinse of your kitchen sink.

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