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Should You Be Giving Your Garbage Disposal More To Eat?

Green Building

Should You Be Giving Your Garbage Disposal More To Eat? Blog Feature

By: Jenny Thornhill on February 9th, 2012

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Today's garbage disposals are designed to devour all types of food waste and, according to a recent study, they offer an environmentally friendly alternative to throwing food in the garbage can. Yet many of us are reluctant to use them.

We recommend you read up on your particular model before sending food down the drain, but know that waste like chicken bones, coffee grounds and fruit rinds are fair game for most new disposals. Here's an interesting list of other waste that we had no idea would be disposer-friendly.

InSinkErator's tips for using your disposal include:

  • Don't pour oils or grease down the drain! They can clog and damage the sewer system. Instead collect fats in a container, then throw the container in the trash.
  • Don't try to grind large amounts of food waste at one time.
  • Do use cold water when using a disposer. Using hot water wastes energy.
  • Do run water down the drain for several seconds after grinding is complete to flush waste and keep debris from settling in the plumbing system.
  • Do save and grind used lemons and other citrus fruit peels to freshen up your disposer, naturally.

Interested in being green? Using your disposal is also likely to help the environment.

According to a recent study, commissioned by the manufacturer of InSinkErator food disposal systems and performed by independent research group PE International, disposing of food down the garbage disposal is always preferable -- from an environmental perspective -- to throwing these items in the trash. The EPA reports that in 2010 33 million tons of food waste was thrown away, making food the single largest component of municipal solid waste reaching landfills and incinerators.

So what?, you ask. Food quickly rots in landfills and becomes a significant source of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. (Some landfills are now harvesting methane in states like California, but this is not the norm.)

The chart below from Environmental Building News identifies the study results with regard to each waste disposal method's impact on global warming. Composting is most often going to be the "best" method of food disposal, but if your choice is simply between the garbage can or garbage disposal, your disposal will win every time. (Again, just make sure the waste is approved for your particular model.)

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