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cynatnite Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 11:29 AM
Original message
Are garbage disposals environmentally safe?
We found ourselves with one when we moved into this house. I've used it a few times, but more and more I'm wondering where this stuff goes or if it's harmful to the environment. At least the leftovers would wind up at a landfill where it would be compost if I decided against using it. I haven't found much on the internet, but I may not be looking in the right places either.

What do you think?
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glowing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 11:32 AM
Response to Original message
1. It goes into your sewer or septic.
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Muttocracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 11:32 AM
Response to Original message
2. They add a bunch of organic matter to wastewater treatment
Edited on Sat Jan-24-09 11:33 AM by JoeIsOneOfUs
If you're on a septic system, it's putting it out in your leachfield, which, depending on your landscape, could be OK or could be an extra burden. If you're sewered, it's adding energy and financial costs to the wastewater treatment plant. Your individual bit may not be much, but multiplied out... Obviously, I'm not a fan.

on edit - if it's sewered, some of it is ending up in the ultimate river or lake where the treated wastewater goes.
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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 11:36 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. On the other hand, food waste going in the garbage ends up incinerated or landfilled,
not composted. Items in modern landfills don't really break down, they are sealed away from air and water for the ages (we hope!)

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Muttocracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 11:39 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. well, I'd rather see the nutrients from land sources stay on land than dumped in water
Sealing them in a landfill is much better for the environment than going into water (and for that matter acts as a carbon sink if they don't break down).
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Texasgal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 11:36 AM
Response to Original message
4. I have one and have never used it.
I compost my scraps. I have a kitchen counter "compost can" that I use. Empty it about once a week.

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backscatter712 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 11:40 AM
Response to Original message
6. Depends on what you flush down it.
Food wastes are OK. Antifreeze, probably not. It just goes down the drain and into the sewer or septic tank, just like the toilet.
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otohara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
7. Eye Opening Documentary - Crapshoot: The Gamble With Our Wastes
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6F_dyKbK2U

A hazardous mix of solid and liquid waste is flushed into the sewer every day. With literally billions of gallons of water passing through municipal sewer systems - composed of unknown quantities of chemicals, solvents, heavy metals, human waste, and food - the question becomes: where does it all go? And what effect does that have on us?

From ancient times, countries have chosen the sewer as the waste management system of choice, flushing untold amounts of household and industrial contaminants that inevitably resurface in the food chain; fish swim through rivers choked with waste water, while processed sewage sludge is spread on farmland as a fertilizer.

With CRAPSHOOT, filmmaker Jeff McKay takes viewers on an eye-opening journey around the world to explore different approaches to sewage, starting at the 2,500 year old Cloaca Maxima in Rome, where the modern concept of sewers began. Filmed in Italy, India, Sweden, the United States and Canada, this bold documentary questions whether the sewer is alleviating or compounding our waste problem. While scientists warn of links between sewage practices and potential health risks, our fundamental attitudes toward waste are being challenged by activists, engineers, and concerned citizens alike. Does our need to dispose of waste take precedence over public health and safety? What are the alternatives?

The DVD version of this program is recorded on DVD-R which is not compatible with some older DVD players. See the new DVD page for more details. http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/craps.html
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sfpcjock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 12:02 PM
Response to Original message
8. Yes, disposers put extra "load" on sewage treatment facilities
Edited on Sat Jan-24-09 12:20 PM by sfpcjock
Thanks for asking. There was a piece on the Green cable channel last week about it where they said the food waste clogs up sewage treatment plants and overloads their capacity to work well.

The recommendation that they made is to use a simple sink strainer that you empty into a compost container, as mentioned by an earlier post here. Here's the cheapest one on Amazon:

Norpro Ceramic Compost Keeper - $24.46 & free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime

The strainer works great in our RV where we live and do not even have a disposer unit.

P.S. If you're new to composting, just leave the animal products out of it. That part attracts scavengers to your compost heap.
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NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 12:14 PM
Response to Original message
9. Depends on your waste management people.
Unless they pick up waste in more than one container, it will all go to landfill.
It's uncommon for a facility that takes mixed content to filter out compostables.

We have three bins for pickup: recyclables, organic waste, and rubbish.
Organic waste gets yard stuff and any vegetable matter (or the stuff that would otherwise go in the sink disposal).

If your waste people don't separate, you can compost it.
If they don't and you can't compost it, it's probably better to put in with the trash than to add to the water treatment system.
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DCKit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:08 PM
Response to Original message
10. I use a large (7 gallon) pot....
and layer vegetable scraps with dirt. Takes a month to fill (switch to another pot) and a month to digest when it's warm outside. The pot is kept airated, from getting too wet (and smelly) by setting it on two short pieces of untreated 2x4 in the saucer.

We double our supply of potting soil every year and will probably never have to add fertilizer.
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Kip Humphrey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:15 PM
Response to Original message
11. Compost... Your soil microbes, plants, and worms will love you.
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handmade34 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:19 PM
Response to Original message
12. WORMS!
when I had to live in the city with no place to compost outside, I kept a bucket with worms under the sink to compost food stuff. Awesome.... no smell and lots of good potting soil after a few months... Just say no to garbage disposals!
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cynatnite Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:21 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. That is so cool! n/t
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handmade34 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:27 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. small red worms are best
you can buy them through the mail by the lb
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Stevenmarc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:21 PM
Response to Original message
13. One word .... Vermicomposting
Because I live in the northeast I can't really use my regular compost bin 12 months out of the year so I keep a vermicomposting bin in the laundry room all year round, those little suckers can break down a whole lot of organic waste.
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