Flash back to 70s or 80s kitchen décor. What do you see? Perhaps an intricate linoleum floor pattern (lino is very eco-friendly, by the way, made from a combo of linseed oil, flax, jute, cork powder, wood flour, and natural pigments) or maybe an in-sink garburator (aka garbage disposal). If you think using the latter "feeds the fish", you're mistaken.
I came face-to-sink with a garburator in the Smiths' Alberta kitchen. Before I could say anything, Mr. Smith asked me "How eco-friendly is garburating anyways?" I whipped out my handy syndicated column, perfect for just such occasions. (See my answer in the Metro.)
Toronto, Ontario has banned garburators altogether, because in the oldest parts of the city, homes have combined water and waste sewers. High nitrogen levels create problems when food waste ends up in the lake.
Other reasons for retiring an existing garburator or not adding one to a new build or renovation is the additional energy they require and the perfectly good drinking water they use to get rid of organic waste.
I've developed quite an email relationship with the City of St. Albert's Environmental Coordinator since starting my 'green the Smiths' project, I asked her if they had a ban or policy when it came to in-sink garbage disposal. Here's what she said, "The City definitely discourages the use of kitchen garburators, however they are not banned. Kitchen garburators increase the amount of organic material in the service lines, which can stick to the lines over time and cause blockages. In addition, like you said, they put unnecessary strain on the sanitary sewer system. One of the engineers at the City explained it in an interesting way — he said that when we use gaburators we put clean, useable material into a system where it needs to be cleaned and treated. Doesn't make sense, right? Anyway, compost is a preferred means of disposal."
And there you have it: backyard composting 1; garburators 0. Of course either option is preferable to throwing organic waste into the landfill.
After many funny looks from hardware sales people, the Smiths bought their very first composter — in November! What tips and tricks do you suggest to help them keep turning their kitchen waste into black gold even during the coldest winter months?
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green