Considering not installing a Garbage Disposer?

murphysfNovember 1, 2012


I currently have a garbage disposer attached to my kitchen sink. I will soon be upgrading the counter tops and installing a new sink.

While talking with a co worker today he mentioned that when he re did his kitchen he didn�t bother installing a garbage disposal.

So I am at a crossroads, which was should I go with my upgrade?

We compost everything possible. We have a bin on the kitchen counter and we buy the compostable small bags from Costco. When bags get full we put them in the freezer in the garage and then weekly put them into the large compost bin for our weekly garbage / recycling pickup. The waste company provides three big (wheels) bins, (garbage, compost, recycling)

I just called my wife and briefly mentioned to her to think about the idea of not having a garbage disposal, her first response was that we could do without one then she mentioned getting rid of soups that she makes would be a bit more difficult, she would have to filter them. This was just a brief 30 seconds phone conversation she will think about it more.

I actually purchase a garbage disposal (I can always return it) and was planning on putting on in, now I am thinking of going without it however I can go either way.

Just wondering what the pros and cons are that I might be missing


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I never intentionally throw anything down my garbage disposal. I really have done enough plumbing work that I don't believe most solids belong in my plumbing.

But I really like having one for all the little food particles that wash off dishes and cookware. I find it so much simpler just to turn on the water and run the disposal for a minute instead of grab all the little stuff out of the strainer in the sink. Worth it to me.

Do you have one now and do you use it. If the answer is yes, I would probably put in another one.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 6:36PM
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I am not planning a garbage disposal in my prep sink. I will likely put in a basket strainer that will catch my debris and I can just lift out and dump into my compost. See link below. I have lived without a garbage disposal for 2 years and it seems fine. Just need a bit of care in shoving down chunky garbage. My family has just gotten into a habit of scraping plates before dumping in the sink.


Here is a link that might be useful: Blanco basket strainer

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 6:44PM
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    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 6:59PM
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If you compost, you really don't need one. I have one in one sink... and barely ever use it. Actually, I don't like that I have to remember to run it every now and then in case anything fell down it.

I'm probably in the minority in not using mine, but I also compost a lot and am on a septic. There is no reason to run that stuff down my plumbing to the septic when it is better off in my garden.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 7:10PM
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I compost everything I can but I still use my disposal. Not everthing can be composted (meats, anything with oil or fat, etc.) and in the hot summer months I try not to put anything edible in the garbage, at least not until right before it is picked up otherwise it can get pretty ugly. If you had never used one you could probably get by but since you've owned and used one it is going to be harder to go without.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 8:05PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I've never had one as we are on septic, and Ive never missed having one...we do have a compost heap. We never have leftover soup, but if we did, I would just pour it down the drain through the strainer and toss the solids separately.

I guess im always imagining rings and such accidentally getting ground up....wasn't there a Dick Van Dyke show about that???

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 8:09PM
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Or I love lucy - but I compost but love the security of grinding anything that goes down the drain - just can't stand the grunge in the basket.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 8:46PM
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We took out an old insinkerator when we demo'd our old kitchen, and my wife didn't want to replace it. Personally I am a fan of garbage disposals, but after a good amount of discussion (my mother-in-law even weighed in on my side), we reached a compromise: I got my stainless counter with integrated sink, and she got no garbage disposal.

I thought it would be a huge hassle, but I'm finding that I don't miss it much. You just want to make sure that you have a garbage can / compost container close to the sink so you can empty the trap without dripping all over your floors.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 8:51PM
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I have lived without one and I hated it. I also don't scrape plates into the sink, and we used to have a compost. Even so, I hated having to clean the little food particles that get stuck to plates and bowls out of the sink. I would never not have one.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 8:52PM
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I haven't had one for 6 years and never miss it . I don't compost at all but I have a strainer type thingy over the drain. I pick up whatever is caught and put it in the garbage. Way less trouble than a disposer ! Cheaper too.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 8:53PM
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It's true, some do enjoy fondling the squid tentacles and liver parts that get caught in strainers as they blindly fumble about trying to force the murky water to go down. I am not among them.

A GD also acts as a powerful pump when you need to get the dirty water out, but that deprives one of an opportunity to use the bailing bucket.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 9:40PM
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It's pretty cheap compared to the overall cost of a kitchen remodel. I'd just put it in and if you don't really use it, no big deal.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 9:43PM
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Marcolo - cringing at your description - hate it!

Have septic, have a disposal and would not want to do without one. I do not like touching the squishy bits and pieces that get caught in a strainer basket and I hate the mess of water drips that you get when trying to shake that ick out of the basket into the garbage (in-laws don't have one so that is where I get my first hand icky bits basket emptying experience from).

We use it for the bits and pieces that get away after scraping plates. Since we are on septic we don't put any foods down it otherwise. Never in 14 years have had a problem with the drain field. Oh and do I also put soups down it and broths - but not grease.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 10:07PM
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When we got our new counter and sink in January, we couldn't fit a disposal in without changing the pipes because our new sink was so much deeper than our old one. We didn't use our disposal much, so we decided to try living without one for a while to see how it went before paying to move the pipe. We haven't really missed it. We don't pour grease down the drain and scrape the plates off in the garbage. We bag and freeze anything like raw chicken skins or shrimp shells until trash day so that our trash doesn't get stinky. We don't usually use the fine strainer in the sink and haven't worried about small things like crumbs going down the drain. Our sink hasn't clogged at all in the past 10 months - the water goes down as fast now as it did in January.

Wouldn't running liver or squid through a garbage disposal make it smell?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 10:18PM
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No garbage disposal here. Liquids are great in the compost - saves having to water it to keep it hot.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 11:27PM
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We have a septic system and a garbage disposal. We only use the GD for small bits but it is still handy. We've been doing this for 18 years now.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 10:18AM
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We are not having one. I think the screen is easier to fumble with than forcing things past the rubber GD opening and I really really really hate cleaning the GD and its slimy tendencies.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 11:09AM
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While I could learn to live without a GD, I'd rather not. It provides a lot of convenience for not a lot of money. Now that I have a fiber optic switch, I like it even more. If you decide to get one, just make sure it's at least 3/4HP. I hated the awful 1/2HP Badger my former plumber put in my old kitchen, and I really hated the toggle switch under the sink.

I clean the GD - rarely - by running ice cubes or lemon rinds through it.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 11:35AM
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We don't have one, but in our kitchen remodel decided to at least get the wiring done for one so that if we (or some future owner) change our minds in the future, it'll be an easy matter to install. Its _much_ easier to do the wiring when the walls are already open than to try to snake wires through later.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 1:21PM
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We don't have a garbage disposal and while we survive just fine without one, I think we'll be adding one when we re-do the kitchen. I'm a huge composter, but I get totally disgusted by having to clean out the little drain basket when there's food bits in it so I'll enjoy not having to do that.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 2:16PM
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i agre with others who said "hate cleaning out the strainer". we didn't have one but put one in with the new kitchen and i love it.

we compost, but its so nice to just rinse your sink with all the little gross particles and not touch the strainer.

for us, its so worth it and like others said, not a big expense.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 2:43PM
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Debbi Branka

When we were house shopping, I wouldn't even look at a house that couldn't (because of septic) have a garbage disposal. Something I just don't want to live without. Ever!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 3:32PM
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Had one in the last house and this one when we moved in but didn't use them much. When we remodeled, I didn't want to give up too much storage space under the main sink, so it was best to choose between the instant hot water and a garbage disposal. Chose the hot water- best decision ever. Don't miss the diposal, but when the hot water dispenser dies, I will definitely want it replaced- the sooner the better, because I would miss that immensely.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 2:44PM
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I love my garbage disposer. They aren't as common up here in Canada as they are in the States, and I think most people here don't have one. I didn't for years and years.
It's only been the last 4 years we've had it and you would have to pry it out of my cold dead fingers now.

Won't be without one again, it's one of the single best conveniences in our kitchen.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 8:06PM
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I live in a city that provides only once-a-week garbage pickup (my tax dollars at work!). If I didn't have a GD, I don't know how I'd handle the smell of my garbage in the summer. Also, I do not compost. I must have a garbage disposer. Love my 3/4 hp Waste King Batch Feed disposer, it handles almost everything, even chicken bones (per its instruction manual).

For the person who said they couldn't fit a disposer under their sink, have you seen the Insinkerator Evolution Compact? It's a disposal specifically made to fit tight under-sink spaces, so you may be able to get a disposer after all.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 9:55AM
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When I was a child, in the days before garbage disposals, we had a triangular basket strainer that sat in the corner of the sink for garbage. All scraps went in and the liquids drained out. At the end of the clean-up, the basket was up-ended onto a couple of sheets of newspaper on the counter and wrapped up. The the strainer was washed - this was also before electric, non-child labor dish washers. The unlucky child whose turn it was to do dishes then had to go out the back door in the scary dark and drop the garbage package in the garbage can (not trash can), which wasn't any too close to the back door. Any child whose turn it wasn't and who was still in the vicinity took the opportunity to discuss the possibility of monsters and such out there. 'Course, when I was a child we also had an incinerator in the service yard. It was a while ago.

I'm with Marcolo - I hate the yuck in the strainer and stirring it around so the water will go down. We compost non-meat stuff out in the garden. Last night's onion and butternut squash peelings are sitting in a bowl on the sink. When I get dressed I'll take it out to the compost pile. We did put in a garbage disposal to deal with the little bits that always get in the sink and that's my first choice. The only part I don't really like is the space is takes up under the sink.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 11:26AM
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One thing I don't get about the pro-garbage disposal crowd when the "yucky squid" topic comes up. A garbage disposal only takes care of that if you have a single bowl sink and no prep sink in your kitchen. Anyone with a double sink and/or a prep sink has more drains to deal with, and if a sink gets used, it has something in the strainer. For this to be a valid point, you would need multiple disposals.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 10:54AM
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I'm in the 'don't get the point' crowd. Maybe because I rarely (okay never) cook squid. It just seems wasteful to me, but so are many other appliances I have in my house I guess.

akchicago - our city just moved to garbage pick every two weeks only (in an effort to get people to produce less garbage, recycle more, etc.). I support this move for environmental reasons. We still have weekly composting and recycling pick up though. For meat composting I stick it in the freezer in newspaper or bags and I just throw it in the compost garbage day. No smells.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 12:29PM
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Circus Peanut

In my experience the worst aspect of not having a GD is finding American friends (who can't imagine anyone not having one) standing there at your sink 'helping' by shoving all sorts of tidbits down your sink pipe, then looking in vain for the switch ...

The best aspect of having one has to be Canadian friends who call it a Garburator, which for some reason always makes me giggle. (Not crazy about the slimy rubber teeth either, though.)

That said, I had two in my last kitchen and can warmly recommend the Insinkerator Evolution models, both regular and compact, as being very quiet, strong and efficient.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 1:08PM
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The best aspect of having one has to be Canadian friends who call it a Garburator, which for some reason always makes me giggle. (Not crazy about the slimy rubber teeth either, though.)

LOL!! I called it a garburator on this site one time many moons ago and got laughed at for it. :)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 1:34PM
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Circus Peanut

Well, I love it, it sounds SO much more like the actual machine, and I've always had a weakness for onomatopoeia: garblegobblegarburrgarrble.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 1:50PM
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"When I was a child, in the days before garbage disposals, we had a triangular basket strainer that sat in the corner of the sink for garbage."

I remember those!

I've haven't had a gd is over 20 yrs and haven't missed it. I keep a plastic bowl (its only use) on the counter when I cook anything to toss 'parts' into. Then it's easy to just dump it into the trash.

there's an old gd in here now (doesn't work) and I'm looking forward to it being taken out (when the sink is changed).

btw, if any 'parts' get loose in the sink I scoop them up with a paper towel not my hands. That's a good use for those PTs!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 2:52PM
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suska6184 - when we had a double sink, I made sure that anything having to do with garbage happened in the side of the sink that had the disposal. That worked 98% of the time. Actually, mostly I kept a dish drainer in the one side and used the disposal side for all prep and washing. As for a prep sink, have you seen my kitchen?! Believe me, there's no separate prep sink in my "compact" space.

I kinda miss that dish drainer, now that I think of it. Maybe if I didn't have a GD I'd have room under the sink to stash a drainer when it wasn't in use.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 3:44PM
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No garbage/trash pick-up for OUR tax dollars. Instead, we have to pay for a dump (oh excuse me "Recycle and Transfer Station," aka "Recycling and Disposal Facility" in the town next door) sticker for each individual car in the family, as well as carrying ID and the RTS "card," which they do check. Then, we have to buy bright yellow "pay-per-throw" bags to use at the said RTS.

Last weekend, it took ten minutes to get out of the RTS AFTER dropping off the trash, because it was so crowded, because everyone in the town has to go there to drop off trash, and its hours are limited. A policeman was there directing traffic.

SO, things that are too icky or that I don't trust the GD to handle, I freeze. Otherwise, I shove every little particle/peel/rind/etc. down that GD that I possibly can.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 3:44PM
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I have lived without one, and I wouldn't want to do it again. We try to not put anything down it, but there are time when food just goes down and it's nice to have. I have to agree with the other posters who said it's a small cost for the price of the kitchen. Even if you don't use it, it's really nice to have it if needed.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 12:43AM
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I had mine removed when it finally broke. Good riddance!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 1:11PM
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Interesting seeing such diverse opinions on the GD. I don't use our alot, like many others, mostly for food bits while rinsing dishes. My husband didn't really want one when we planned our remodel, but we are reusing the one we have which worked just fine. Of course, he also washes dishes by hand instead of putting them in the dishwasher and has them drain in the sink....*sigh*

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 2:28PM
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