The Great Garbage Disposal Debate by

Issue 71 · The Modern Kitchen · May 10, 2013

The Great Garbage Disposal Debate

Issue 71 · The Modern Kitchen · May 10, 2013

When we packed up and moved to London a few years ago, I was thrilled with our new kitchen. It was perfectly equipped and included a deep stainless sink partnered with a lovely Vola faucet. It wasn't until my inaugural meal preparation that I noticed it. No disposal. 

Now that we live in California, we have a disposal that sits mostly unused. The habits I established while living in a disposal-free kitchen keep our food waste to a minumum; that, plus our city's compost collection efforts.

So this has us wondering: is it time to reconsider the garbage disposal? What is an environmentally-conscious home renovator to do? 

Garbage Disposal Pros and Cons, Remodelista

Above: Pros: Garbage disposals are convenient and keep rotting food smells out of the trash bin. Depending on where you live, disposals can have the environmental benefit of keeping food waste out of the landfill (and gas-guzzling, carbon-producing trucks), and be used productively if waste at your water treatment center is put to secondary uses (i.e. as fertilizer). Image by Janet Hall.

Running Water Faucet, Remodelista

Above: Cons: Garbage disposals are water guzzlers, use electricity, and put a strain on waste-water systems. And there are many issues related to what ends up in the water at the end of the process that may harm the environment.  Then there is the noise. Image by Steve Johnson via Flickr.


Stainless Steel Compost Bin, Remodelista

Above: While there is debate about what is least harmful—food waste in landfills or water systems—there is no arguing that keeping food out of the waste cycle by composting is best. If you don't have municipal compost collection, maybe it's time to consider creating your own garden compost. Gathering compost sink-side is easy with a Kitchen Compost Pail, like the Brushed Stainless Steel Compost Pail; $39.95 at Williams-Sonoma.

Countertop Built-in Compost, Remodelista

Above: Here's an idea we like: an In-Counter Compost Solution that allows you to sweep vegetable trimmings, etc., directly into the composting bin. Image via Cultivate.


Insinkerator Evolution Garbage Disposal, Remodelista

Above: The best solution is to minimize food waste in the first place. But if you fall into the pro-garbage disposal camp, here's one that will address the noise issue. InSinkErator's Evolution Excel Garbage Disposal features SoundSeal Plus noise-reduction technology, which translates to a 60 percent quieter unit; $315.87 at Amazon.

Garbage disposal or no garbage disposal? Where do you stand on this issue? Gardenista Editor Michelle offers her Take on Composting





Have an opinion? Care to comment? We'd love to hear what you have to say.