Garbage Disposals are a household staple. They are easy to use and most importantly they make all the unwanted leftovers on our plates disapear. We empty our cutting boards into them and sometimes throw in a piece of fruit or two to make the stinky odor coming out of them smell better. Why? Because we dont know any better.
Where does all that food waste go? Should we care? I think so.
After your garbage disposal has finished grinding your food waste down, the remaining solids are sent into your friendly neighborhood sewer line. Thats right, it goes into the line that carries your waste water! Why is that so bad? It disapears and low and behold fresh water come out of my faucet, its a miracle! The system works!
If you follow the path of your food waste to the wastewater treatment plant, or even worse your septic tank you will learn a few things. The most important is wastewater is cleaned by tiny little micro organisms the use the dissolved waste we produce in water as food. They inturn clean our water and voila, out from the sink comes clean water.
Ok its not that simple, but that is the basic concept. The problem with food waste in water is that it isnt dissolvable in water. When was the last time you saw an orange rind or a pulverized chicken bone dissolve in water? Heres a hint... they dont.
Our municipal wastewater treatment plants get tons of non-dissolved food stuffs from our drains everyday, forcing them to spend energy, buy equipment, replace pumps, and yes spend more of our tax dollars to get that clean water back to our faucets.
For those of us with septic tanks... you know that big hole in the back yard that occasionally creates perfumes that even the dog doesnt want to sniff... the garbage disposal is its worst nightmare. In your septic tank there are no municipal workers cleaning your water and seperating your food waste from your water waste. Instead that food waste sinks to the bottom and over time builds up creating all sorts of issues and smells.
Whats the solution? Its simple.
Anytime you cut, chop, dice, peel or slice something make sure you take what ever is left over and dump it straight into your garbage can or compost pile. What about leftovers you ask? Thats easy, take a used napkin, fork, knife, or whatever is laying around thats handy and scrape any remaining foodstuffs from your plate into your composte pile or trash bin. Yes, it may take one or two seconds longer to reach from the sink to the trash bin but your short and longterm impact on the environment and your wastewater treatment system will be great and greatly appreciated.
So cook your hearts out, eat healthy, and remember the sink is not a dump, its a sink!
- Kaan Gencer