Yes or no to having a garbage disposal?
Diane Mazefsky
October 29, 2013 in Design Dilemma
My contractor friend who does massive houses ( with green and solar features) is absolutely against using garbage disposals- says they are the source of many plumbing and sewer problems. Are most people still using them?
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calidesign
I've never heard of not using them. Maybe he is referring to people misusing the disposals when they have them, assuming they can put anything down the drain. If a disposal is used correctly, it's a great thing to have.
October 29, 2013 at 9:47pm     
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Darzy
Yes. Most people still have a garbage disposal. Unless you have a septic system. Then, no garbage disposal.
October 29, 2013 at 9:48pm     
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Linda
I grew up in a house without a garbage disposal and have only lived briefly in a house with one. I rarely used it and certainly don't miss it. To me, they are more trouble and expense than they're worth
October 29, 2013 at 10:01pm     
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nllo
I had one and it constantly gave me problems. I don't use it anymore.
October 29, 2013 at 10:29pm     
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ASVInteriors
Most European homes don't have one. It is illegal in Switzerland. So for ecological and economical reasons, we have lived without one for many years....
October 29, 2013 at 10:38pm     
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bschr
I can't imagine keeping smelly rotting food either in my home or outside in the compost bin for animals to get in to. I really like my garbage disposal.
October 29, 2013 at 10:52pm     
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latifolia
I dislike them, and one of the first things I plan to do when I soon renovate our kitchen is remove it. That said, we recently re-did the kitchen in a rental loft we own, and the designer advised us to keep it. Apparently tenants expect them. We own another rental condo where we had to remove it because the added depth made the kitchen drain below grade and caused problems.

Much better to add your organics to a compost pile and get good garden soil.
October 29, 2013 at 11:02pm     
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victorianbungalowranch
I try to use them as little as possible, and lived in Germany for years without one. I put smelly food (like onions) and meat scraps and meat wrappings in a plastic bag in the freezer, veggies in compost, and the rest recycled mostly, which got me through trash pick up of only 1.75 liters every two weeks for 4 years. I still put the smelly stuff in the freezer to avoid stinky trash cans, esp. in the summer.

The only reason I use a disposal is to clear out those little bits of food that get caught in the drain. In Germany I had strainers to help with that, and the drains are designed differently so they are easier to clean out. The American strainers don't work as well, even the mesh ones, and are harder to clean.
October 30, 2013 at 12:20am     
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LB Interiors
Yes I have a garbage disposal that rarely gets used. Like others, composting and tiny scraps only. I hate to put anything down the drain. Possibly many people misuse it, which is why the contractor is against one.
October 30, 2013 at 12:33am     
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Sharon
I'm in Australia and most people I know don't have one. We are big on composting, recycling, re-using etc. we have a garbage collection every week though, and if possums etc get to be problematic at the bins, we just put a brick on the lid til Garbo day.
October 30, 2013 at 3:18am     
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carbary
The bottom line is how do you currently live? With one or without?
October 30, 2013 at 3:26am     
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orangecamera
I have one and use it every day. I live in an HOA and I'm not allowed to compost. I looked into indoor composting, but really don't want to keep worms.
October 30, 2013 at 3:47am     
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decoenthusiaste
Composting and feeding chickens provides all the "garbage disposal" I need.
October 30, 2013 at 4:06am     
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Dytecture
Agreed it's more environmental friendly to compost rather than using a garbage disposal.
October 30, 2013 at 5:32am     
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DMH DESIGN
We haven't had one for years in our 40's era home. We don't really miss it, although with two of us, the biggest volume issue is recycling, not composting. Likely, the garbage disposal is becoming the new soaker tub--it's nice to have one, but presently they rarely get used.
October 31, 2013 at 10:55am     
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studio10001
Have never owned one ( over 40 residence changes) or installed one, and only know of one person that still has one. (two, if I count Darzy).
October 31, 2013 at 11:53am     
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0825sam
Interesting. We just remodeled our kitchen and put in a garbage disposal and use it every day.
October 31, 2013 at 11:58am     
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bluenan
This question and the responses are shocking to me! I can't imagine living without a garbage disposal!! I have a septic system and have never had a problem in 19 years and I use my disposal several times a day. I only have once a week trash pick-up so putting garbage in my trash, especially in the summer is unthinkable. I throw a lot of things out in the woods for the critters and don't put highly fibrous vegetables down the disposal, but not having one at all is not even a consideration for me.
October 31, 2013 at 5:53pm     
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dclostboy
I have septic in the beach house and it's the first house I've had with no disposal...believe it or not, you adapt :)
October 31, 2013 at 5:57pm     
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elklaker
Bluenan-I could have written your response verbatim. Have a septic system and disposal and never had a problem. We don't have a disposal at the lake house and it is really annoying. Just for the rinsing of dishes. I, too, chuck fruit and vegetables into the woods. No issues and no concerns about the environmental impact.
October 31, 2013 at 6:06pm     
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kathy
Never had one in any house. And now in Ontario, all the municipalities have city composting - ie as well as recycling you also separate out organics (so blue box recycling and green bin organic composting). About the only thing left in the garbage is plastic packaging. Also in order to encourage people to separate organics from garbage, recycling and organics are picked up weekly, garbage only every 2 weeks. Before recycling and composting, garbage was still only picked up once/week - never lived anywhere where it was more often. Can't imagine sending garbage into water system, though I'm sure there are filters.
October 31, 2013 at 6:29pm     
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Mega Builders
Its a great convenience, so why not?
November 1, 2013 at 5:03am     
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Elysia Duerr
We moved recently to a home with one and removed it. They produce odorless gas and methane and use too much water. An ecologically minded homeowner should not use them. I have read that they are the #1 worst ecological thing in most kitchens. The fact that they are illegal in many places (NYC) says a lot.
November 1, 2013 at 5:11am     
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orangecamera
Wow, I've never heard of this, Elysia Duerr. How are they producing odorless gas and methane?! I use mine all the time, but don't waste water on it. I run it while I'm rinsing dishes and/or cleaning out the sink, so the same water is being used "twice".
November 1, 2013 at 7:56am     
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southerngirlphd
We have replaced ours 3 times. We are currently building a home and will NOT be adding a disposal.
November 1, 2013 at 8:13am     
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feeny
Garbage disposals are illegal in many Canadian municipalities too. We have one (in Ohio), a Kitchenaid that is more than 20 years old and still going strong. But as we compost and recycle, it gets used only infrequently. I like having it as an option, just because sometimes it is useful for materials that can't go in the compost (or for the middle of winter when I get a bit lazy about taking our compost bin out through the snow to the composter behind the garage), but agree that it isn't environmentally friendly. When our old one finally dies I doubt we'll replace it. And that way we'll be forced to take out the compost in winter!
November 1, 2013 at 8:23am     
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fancie
Another Australian here. I have only ever seen one garbage disposal unit - it was in a house built in the 1970's (ex show home). We have hot hot hot summers here and putting kitchen waste in garbage bins has never been a problem hygiene wise. Wrap it appropriately and stick it in the bin. Job done. We put more in our recycle bin than we put in our garbage bin.
November 1, 2013 at 8:31am     
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Diane Mazefsky
I really appreciate this discussion and all your info and comments. I love convenience with our over busy multitasking lives. I hate to not have one but I have not been using mine for years in current house except to turn it in to clear odor that comes from it. I have had numerous problems that I do believe are connected to it- in an old house, old plumbing, crumbling city sewer system. I will be on the same sewer system at the new house with new plumbing. I do believe that there are significant environmental issues and any small thing I can do that is right for the environment I am trying to do. I am not on the far end by any means of being a super- conservationalist because I am too busy. It would be easier for me to have one. But seeing the plumbing problems that they sometimes cause in some houses and cities. And having my very smart and thorough friend who builds "green" homes in Boston area tell me they are BAD BAD BAD in the long run for plumbing and sewage systems, etc., ( he has done all the research ) I am going to opt to not use one. Other countries have been ahead of us forever in their concern about the beauty around them ( Canada, New Zealand, Australia ) and so in. I'm going to take their lead and deal with the inconvenience. I grew up on virgin forest on a former farm in the 50s and 60s and we composted everything for use on the wonderful gardens. I'm no saint re: green and could use all the help I can get from conveniences...;) - I am mighty tired at 61 from multitasking.... But this is something I can do on the side of looking at the big picture and thinking there is something to the outlawing of GDs in so many places.
November 1, 2013 at 9:09am     
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JudyG Designs
No garbage disposals allowed. We are on Title 5 septics. I know of some who have them installed after they move in, but when it comes time to sell, out they go.

We recycle in this house, anyway, and make lots of trips to the dump.
November 1, 2013 at 9:13am     
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Diane Mazefsky
I wonder why the " like" function has disappeared from my posts everywhere on Houzz? It was always there until a couple days ago.?? Anybody know about how to fix it?
November 1, 2013 at 9:17am   
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feeny
It's still there. I can see it. But you can't "like" your own posts, so the poster can't see the Like button. Not sure how long it has been that way.
November 1, 2013 at 9:20am     
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incubus_of_habit
"They produce odorless gas and methane" = huh?

As for the question, ideally you'd compost. Barring that, big stuff should go in garbage. That leaves the little stuff getting washed down the drain, which a food disposal can help with.
November 1, 2013 at 9:42am     
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studio10001
For you, incubus. I spared no virtual expense (up to $10) in my desire to save your drains from 'little stuff' with my non-gaseous hand-operated super-duper food disposal system:
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November 1, 2013 at 10:18am     
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incubus_of_habit
You sure that doesn't off-gas? It looks suspicious. :) (But yes, a strainer should always be the first line of defense...)
November 1, 2013 at 10:26am     
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caterfran
He is so right. I've made that mistake on 2 of my own kitchens. The dishwasher drains into the disposal and not enough capacity. Get a compost pail.
November 2, 2013 at 8:41am     
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orangecamera
@caterfran, who are you referring to? I can't figure out what your post means :/
November 2, 2013 at 8:55am     
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feeny
orangecamera, I think the "he" in caterfran's post may refer to the "contractor friend" recommending against the garbage disposal in the original question.
November 2, 2013 at 9:27am     
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Norwood Architects
An absolute necessity. They help break down solid foods before hitting the sewer system. This is one of the reasons health/sewer officials require them in restaurants.But make no mistake, do not buy a lower end model.
November 2, 2013 at 10:21am     
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Diane Mazefsky
It does make sense in restaurants. But an individual can simply process food in a way that nothing goes down the drain. We lived without them for most of history. We are used to thinking habits and conveniences are necessities. I too love the convenience. But I put a big strainer in my sink when preparing foods and dump scraps where thru should go- garbage or compost bag. The strainer in the sink blocks any little things. I do have a GD in current house but again don't use it except when it gets smelly and I run ting pieces of lemon through it. It's my same gripe with all the house hunters on HGTV.... They are so conditioned to having everything " now" and new that they can't even imagine repainting or removing wallpaper. They say "this is so 80s" or "90s"..... And want it all new and now. Slow down , re- use, recycle, respect timeless features, which usually are better than most new construction anyway. Beautiful wood, stone, brick thrown in a dumpster.
November 2, 2013 at 11:43am     
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jpp221
I have never had one, can't imagine needing it. We have weekly compost pickup here and bi-weekly garbage and recycling. They recycle so much that often the garbage is not even put out, they could cut down to once a month and we'd be fine. And the thought of loading the water treatment system with stuff that is so easily composted, well that's crazy talk.
November 2, 2013 at 12:23pm     
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RosemaryR
Not allowed to have them if you have septic system in my area.
November 2, 2013 at 12:27pm   
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dkvhaus
Your "friend" contractor $$$
Hmmm... I wonder who you will call when your plumbing is blocked because you don't have a disposal.

Hippie Artist Ruins Plumbing.
Years ago, I had an apartment and the tenant before me made her own candle art. What do you think the hippie did with her excess wax? Yep, down the kitchen sink.
November 2, 2013 at 12:31pm   
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Belle Chaise
Have never had problems with a garbage disposal. Not having one would be close to not having a toilet.
November 2, 2013 at 12:45pm     
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Diane Mazefsky
I am far from a hippie. Run a business. Have run households on my own , 4 different houses. Every plumbing problem I have had leafs back to the garbage disposal. Verified by plumbers. I have the top of the line GD and quit using it because it shakes the plumbing loose, backs up to the sewer eventually. My plumber is also the top plumber, smart, thoughtful, careful, well- educated beyond plumbing. What your tenant did with candle wax would not have been solved by a GD.
November 2, 2013 at 1:25pm     
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Diane Mazefsky
And my contractor friend has a PhD from CMU, developed a model for solar housing and was hired by a huge Bostom firm to implement these houses all over New England . Beautiful high- end, beautifully designed homes. No GDs unless the buyer insists.
November 2, 2013 at 1:28pm     
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Diane Mazefsky
He also uses geothermal heating and cooling systems. Low energy use and cost, lower environmental impact.
November 2, 2013 at 1:29pm     
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Arley
I have lived with and without a disposal. Don't have one right now, don't miss it one little bit. If we don't like the smell of what we put in the garbage we simply walk it out to the garage and place it in the garbage. Not really a big deal, as we empty our cans at least nightly. (We don't like bugs either).

Place an outlet under the sink, if anyone wants one in the event of a future resale, they can put it in themselves, so can you for that matter.

I would rather have "smelly" food in my compost or garbage that I can dispose of any time, then the gunk that hangs onto garbage disposal mechanismsI YUCK! Yes they have chemicals that supposedly clean them, not trusting those, you can use lemon, ice etceteras. But in the end, there is a ton of bacteria that adheres to them. And as mentioned above they are not environmentally friendly.

We're redoing our whole house, I am putting in outlets for disposals, but no disposals yet. I honestly think I'll be quite happy without one. But, for the next homeowners who knows....
November 2, 2013 at 1:43pm     
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studio10001
When even the GD proponents above start comparing it to having a toilet in the kitchen, I have to think that its popularity may have peaked..... :)))
November 2, 2013 at 2:29pm     
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gweire
How does using a GD back up sewage lines when flushing a toilet doesn't? Never heard of that.
November 2, 2013 at 2:31pm     
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solraven
I have one, but rarely use it. I really only use it when I have food bits in the sink strainer, and it's easier to wash it throw the disposal. That being said, if I didn't have it, I wouldn't miss it.
November 2, 2013 at 2:39pm     
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Diane Mazefsky
Don't know why, just know that the problem begins between GD and lines from sink to main line. And what the people above have told me.
November 2, 2013 at 3:17pm     
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dkvhaus
Dear Diane,
Why did you post the question? I noticed that you have refuted all comments that are pro GD.
November 3, 2013 at 11:49am     
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Diane Mazefsky
I was processing and getting opinions and reached my conclusion through the process . So many of the comments were so helpful. But thanks for your .....interest ?
November 3, 2013 at 12:32pm   
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Lesley Delle_Grazie
We have had organics recycling in our city for 3 years now, and I love it. Between that and blue-bin recycling, we usually only have 1 very small bag of garbage per week. I've never had a garbage disposal, nor do I want one. All of that water and gunk has to go through the water treatment plant, and the "sludge" at the end just ends up in the landfill. Not only that, but GD's use alot of fresh water to rinse "garbage" down the drain. I just use my paper napkin to clear my plate into our "green bin" at the end of a meal, so there's nothing left on the plate to wash down the drain anyway.
November 3, 2013 at 12:52pm     
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