I remember watching The Blob as a kid. The one from the 80's, not the one with Steve McQueen. There was this scene where this guy is trying to fix a garbage disposal, so he puts his arm down the drain. Now, everyone thinks he's going to get his arm cut up by the disposal, but it's The Blob that's clogging the drain. The guy ends up getting yanked down the drain never to be seen again. When we garbage-disposal our food, it is kind of like that guy. We may never see the food again, but it may be becoming a part of a growing problem, kind of like a metaphorical blob.
What's the Best Way to Dispose of Food Waste?
The best way to dispose of food waste is by composting it or just cleaning your plate (ie eating it). You can't force your guests to clean their plate and sometimes you'll have some stuck-on lasagna gunk that isn't very palatable. My dad has a novel solution to ridding himself of food waste. He just feeds it all to his dog. People who keep pigs often do the same thing.
What's Wrong with the Garbage Disposal?
The garbage disposal puts food particles in our water. That's not so terrible, (a little terrible) but the water processing plants have to expend extra energy when purifying the water. So the garbage disposals end up having a larger carbon footprint than the electricity that was spent flipping it on. Some food particles can contaminate lakes and rivers causing unwanted algae growth. Garbage disposals also waste water.
What are the Green Alternatives?
Letting your food go to the landfill is also not good. Decomposing food can lead to methane pockets which is bad for the climate. Composting is the best alternative. Reusing the old food to help new plants grow is the greenest alternative. Feeding it to pets or farm animals would be the next best thing. If you live in an apartment with no way to compost and no pets, then the garbage disposal might be your best bet. According to an article by Jacob Leibenluft, it is all right to use the garbage disposal in some cases. He says that greasy and fatty foods should never go down the disposal and that when water is scarce the disposal should remain off. Also, check if your local water plant utilizes waste methane as an energy source.
Overall, the using the garbage disposal isn't very eco-smart, but it has the potential to be a green source of apartment food removal