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Garbage-Disposals, Eco-Unfriendly?


Some people believe garbage disposals OVERBURDEN water treatment facilities. Others think garbage trucks and landfills are the problem. Slate investigates:

It is true that with the major exception of grease and fats—which can block pipes and cause overflows—water-treatment systems are designed pretty well to handle most of the scraps you might have left over from dinner. The leftovers you shovel into the sink will eventually make their way to a wastewater plant, where the sewage goes through "grit treatment," which strains out the largest solid matter…

…Dumping waste into the water system has environmental costs. There is evidence that the effluent that is pumped back into local water streams does affect their chemical composition and aquatic life. In extreme cases, the result can be something called eutrophication, which occurs when a higher concentration of nutrients results in algae blooms

…On the other hand, it takes a considerable amount of energy to truck all that garbage from your curb to a landfill. (How much more will depend on where you live relative to the landfill, but average data compiled in both that Australian study and one conducted in Wisconsin suggest a factor of two.) The decomposition of your trash in the landfill will likely result in more damaging greenhouse gas emissions, since the breakdown of your food waste may produce methane so quickly that it can't be captured.

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From the Organic Authority Files

Well, you could always save ALL your garbage in the basement and worm-compost. That's what Emmy winning camera man Dave Chameides is doing; via Time magazine.

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