The Garbage Disposal Dilemma

For those of us fortunate enough to have garbage disposals,
which I dare say is the vast majority of us, the recent addition of
food waste to our recycling collection system has created a
dilemma.
By Anthony Eulo

For those of us fortunate enough to have garbage disposals, which I dare say is the vast majority of us, the recent addition of food waste to our recycling collection system has created a dilemma.

Is it more eco-correct to add your food waste to your yard trimmings, or is it preferable (and easier) to grind them up in the disposal? This is precisely the question that one of our finer citizens asked me to address in this week’s column.

While this seems like a relatively easy question to consider, it is really fraught with complications.

Should I, as your local government’s eco-guy, really expect people to stop using their garbage disposals in the name of resource conservation and water conservation?

How much inconvenience should you, as a resident with a busy life, have to put up with? How much water is wasted when food is placed in the disposal? How much water could be wasted rinsing out gunky food containers and yard trimmings cans?

Rather than focusing on these questions, I think it is more useful to focus on why we started the food waste recycling program to begin with.

The reason we did is that our actual weighted analysis of residential garbage found that about 30 percent of the garbage consisted of food waste and food soiled paper waste. This 30 percent was stuff that was NOT GOING IN THE DISPOSAL. You see, while most people use their disposal as a convenience when washing dishes and cleaning up, there is still a lot of food waste that is difficult to get rid of in the disposal so it gets put in the trash.

How many of us cut a watermelon rind into small disposable pieces instead of just tossing it in the garbage? It’s this 30 percent that we’re interested in reducing, not the stuff that’s going down the drain.

So, here’s the eco-bottom line:  Feel free to continue using your disposal if that works for you.

Please do, however, keep your food waste and your food soiled paper waste out of the regular garbage and dispose of these items with your yard trimmings in your green compost cart.

Eco-Fact of the Week: The City’s food waste containers are becoming popular with residents and many people have come by City Hall to pick them up. Remember, you  get two so that you’ll always have at least one to use even if one is in the dishwasher.

They are available at City Hall, or if you prefer to have them delivered, call South Valley Disposal and Recycling at 842-3358 and they’ll bring a pair out.

Eco-Web Site of the Week: A great way to reduce your yard trimmings is to grasscycle. Grasscycling involves mowing with a mulching mower and leaving your clippings on the lawn. For more info, check out www.ciwmb.ca.gov/organics/grasscycling/default.htm.

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