Garbage Disposal: Spoon Destroyer or Beneficial Appliance?


Growing up in my parents’ home, there was this panel of two switches next to the kitchen sink, and I was forever forgetting which was which – nothing like being scared silly when you flip the wrong one and inadvertently turn on the garbage disposal instead of the lights!  Unfortunately for my mom, more than one of her spoons got mangled by the garbage disposal because I couldn’t keep them straight.

Certainly a good amount of caution is helpful when operating a garbage disposal, but used correctly, they can be a very beneficial kitchen appliance to have.  What is a garbage disposal?  We often think of it as if it was a blender that lived in our drains, but that is a misconception.  Unlike a blender, there are no blades involved in a garbage disposal.  Instead, the disposal unit contains impellers on a spinning plate that use centrifugal force to grind food against a stationary grind plate.  This essentially liquefies the food, and a steady stream of cold water helps wash it down the drain.

So why should I have a garbage disposal?  What are the advantages?

3 Advantages of Garbage Disposals:

First, using a garbage disposal is environmentally responsible.  Over half of the 250 million tons of solid waste generated annually in the United States ends up in landfills.  Food waste, which accounts for nearly 13% of the total, generally ends up in the landfills also.  There are two environmentally friendly ways to dispose of the food waste: composting, and using a garbage disposal.  Composting, however, can be time-consuming and inconvenient.  Using a garbage disposal, on the other hand, enables food waste, which is composed of 70% water, to be pulverized and washed down the drain to a wastewater treatment plant.  Increasing numbers of wastewater treatment plants are able to recycle food scraps into energy and fertilizer, meaning that not only is food waste not ending up in the landfill, but it’s actually being productively recycled.*

Second, using a garbage disposal keeps food waste out of the trash can.  Food trash left in an inside can quickly result in unpleasant odors, and should your trash bag rip or tear, spilled food waste creates a stinky unpleasant mess in your home!  Food waste left in the outside trashcan rapidly decomposes in the heat, which also creates odors.  Even worse, the smell of decomposing garbage can attract very unwelcome visitors – scavenger animals.  Using a garbage disposal to dispose of leftover food waste allows the waste to be safely washed down the drain and keeps it out of your trash cans.

Third, using a garbage disposal is an economical way of dealing with your food trash.  On average, a garbage disposal uses about 1% of a household’s total water consumption, and costs less than $.50 per year in electricity usage.**  Disposing of food waste in this way costs just pennies.

Your garbage disposal will continue to be reliable and helpful if you’ll follow a couple quick tips.  First, never pour grease or fat into your garbage disposal or drain.  Instead, pour grease or fat into a disposable container, allow it to harden, and then throw it away.  Second, if your disposal should need freshening, grind citrus fruit peels to clean up any unpleasant odors.

Garbage disposals are economical, keep your home smelling fresh, and are good for the environment.  And if used properly, your spoons will be safe! Contact your Ontario plumber, the Hippo Hero, today, to have a garbage disposal installed in your kitchen and experience all the benefits for yourself.


*Source: U.S. Environmental Protective Agency, 2008, via


By Laura Rhee

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