Kitchen Waste: How Do You Handle It?

>> Thursday, July 31, 2014

How do you handle kitchen waste? It's something few of us really think about, as we just toss whatever is leftover into the garbage can. Or maybe into the sink to run through the garbage disposal. Some of us dutifully compost organic scraps to feed our garden nutrient-dense soil.

Us? Well, I've had a garbage disposal in my kitchen since I was a kid. After enough plumbing disasters (plumbers hate garbage disposals), we stopped putting food down the drain, and we haven't looked back. Composting is a big issue to tackle in a single post, so I thought I'd start with the initial stage: the garbage bowl!

You may not know it, but Rachel Ray didn't invent the whole garbage bowl thing. In fact, my high school boyfriend's mom used one back in the 90s, which is when I first saw one in action. Sure, you can buy brightly colored melamine bowls and for this purpose. For ours, I picked up an old (pretty!) bowl at a local thrift shop, and I think it set me back a grand total of $2.

  • Any bowl or bucket or bin will serve as an excellent garbage bowl, but it's best to choose one that can hold a day's worth of waste. Think around the size of your medium to large mixing bowl.
  • I prefer glass, ceramic, or metal bowls because we're trying to eliminate all plastics (we've been close for quite some time) from our kitchen. And, yes, eliminating plastics is another post I have in the queue. 
  • A garbage bowl is a great time saver. You can take fewer trips to your garbage can while preparing food and still keep your work area clear of debris.
  • Speaking of garbage cans, using a garbage bowl can also be a jumping off point to -- yes -- composting, if that's something that interests you. 
  • I'll be writing a full post on the next stage of this process soon. If you'd like to get a jump-start, helpful books include The Rodale Book of Composting: Easy Methods for Every Gardener and Let it Rot!: The Gardener's Guide to Composting.
  • We had a large compost bin at our old house -- and we're on the hunt for a smart solution for our new yard. This worm composting system intrigues me -- does anyone use one? 
  • Limited spacers: If you live in an apartment or small home, you can also try one of these compact steel compost bins. (And if you're on a budget, you can get a basic composting solution for under $10, it's plastic, but sometimes you have to pick your battles.)
  • Foods you can compost include: fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, nut shells + peanut hulls, tea leaves, and much more.
  • Foods to keep out of your garbage bowl (and compost bin): Yogurt, cheeses, fish, meat, bones, and any non-food items, like tags and ties.
So, how do you handle your home's food waste? 

And if you follow a similar system -- what do you do with it? I know some cities even have compost pickup sponsored by their local waste management facilities. That sounds pretty cool. It looks like pilot pickup programs are popping up all over the country, so I'll have to keep my eyes peeled on that one!

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