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Ditch the Disposal This Holiday Season – and Always!

COMMUNITY CENTERClean Water & WaterwaysGreen Homes & BusinessesNov 20, 2013Katie Cullipher

Author: Katie Cullipher

“Deck the pipes with greasy build-up, fa-la-la-la-la…” Wait, that’s not how the song goes! For many of us, though, that’s exactly what’s happening behind the scenes every time we “flip the switch” to make those food particles disappear down the drain. Using a garbage disposal seems to make meal prep and clean-up quick and easy, but this kitchen catchall can actually do more harm than good. Have you ever stopped to wonder where all that mess is going?

Garbage disposals can break up nearly any organic material you put down them, but that’s all they do — they break things apart into smaller pieces. The problem exists on the other side of the connection where food leaves the blades and enters your plumbing on its way to the sanitary sewer system. This system is designed to manage the flow of wastewater exiting your home, not the leftovers from your dinner plates. When these substances are washed down the drain, they cling to pipe walls building up over time, blocking the flow of wastewater and leading to sewer backups into homes, onto streets, down storm drains, and into local waterways.


Who wants an expensive visit from the plumber to interrupt your eggnog? Talk about your unwanted holiday house guests! The best way to protect your pipes and prevent costly plumbing problems is to always be mindful of what you wash down the drain. Following these simple rules will help to keep your pipes clear:

  • Don’t feed the garbage disposal. Just say no!
  • Use a strainer in your sink drain to catch any food particles that attempt to escape; throw the scraps collected into the trash or compost bin.
  • Before washing, thoroughly scrape plates into the trash.
  • Wipe pots, pans, and cooking utensils with a paper towel prior to washing.
  • Never pour oil, drippings, batters, sauces, or dressings down the drain. Absorb these substances with a paper towel and toss into the trash.
  • Pour used cooking grease into an empty, heat safe container like a soup can; let it cool and harden, then toss it out with the garbage.