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The Gist on Garburators


The Gist on Garburators

Household waste is something we all have to deal with every day. Most ends up in the garbage, but the food waste is better off disposed either through composting or a garburator. What is a garburator, you ask? A garburator, or garbage disposal unit as they are known elsewhere, is a noisy little monster that lives underneath your sink. This piece of machinery gives an alternative to composting for disposing your food waste. Their use is highly contested in many areas but is widely used across the United States and Australia.

What do they do?

Calling a garburator a “noisy little monster” is kind of an accurate description when you think about it. This appliance is installed underneath your sink and is connected to the drain. A motorized blade chops up any bits of food that get thrown down the drain via a switch near your sink. That food waste is now small enough to pass through the water pipes to the treatment plant, where they’re repurposed for fertilizer and such. A garburator is classified as either continuous feed or batch feed. The former kind is most prominent in homes and operates by feeding in waste after it’s started. Batch-feed garburators work differently in that food waste is place in prior to starting the motor, which only operates when a slotted cover is in place. The slots allow water to pass through while preventing any other objects from falling down the drain. Because of that, this kind of garburator is considered the safest.

Pros & Cons

One of the main benefits of owning a garburator is the convenience factor. Rather than collecting food waste in a compost or green bin, you can dispose of your food waste more quickly. A garburator offers a real option for those living in apartments or where a green bin initiative isn’t in place. However, it is important to know that some Canadian cities prohibit the use of one, such as Ottawa and Toronto. Other cities may simply discourage them, but either way be sure to check your municipality’s website before buying a garburator. The reasoning behind many cities banning the use of garburators is the environmental impact and added cost for treating the food waste that comes through the water system. Another downside to owning one is the extra water and energy they consume. You also have to be mindful of what kind of food you throw down there. Certain things can cause clogs or smells.

Maintenance and Safety

Fortunately, there are ways of maintaining your garburator that can solve issues such as bad smells. For that specific problem, throw down bits of lemon rinds to keep it smelling fresh. You can keep it clean by tossing in a few ice cubes, as well, in addition to regularly wiping down the inner side of the drain. Just make sure it’s turned off first. Before you throw out any food waste, consider what you’re throwing in there. Hard objects, like bones or popcorn kernels, can jam or be hard on the motor. Other things might be too fibrous for the system. Things like banana peels can get tangled, while bits of eggshells can become sand-like and end up clogging your pipes. Grease is another no-no, along with cigarette butts, hair and inorganic materials. Use cold water to wash down the food waste. It helps the motor from overheating. As for safety, never put your hand down there when it’s on. If you drop something down there like a ring, turn off the unit first before you fish it out. A bent coat hanger or a pair of chopsticks can help you retrieve anything fallen down the drain. Also, make sure your hands are dry before you turn it on. Don’t take on any repairs you don’t know how to do. Call a plumber or at least consult the instructions your unit came with.


By: Meagan Dieroff

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