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Are garbage disposals standard?

CanadaGirl Feb 25, 2013 01:31 PM

I have been pondering the popularity of garbage disposals. I have noticed many comments, some in passing, on CH concerning the use of garbage disposals/disposers (sp?). They seem very common on here, but where I live (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) they are very uncommon; I would even say rare. I think they are legal, but I know they are discouraged. We do have municipal composting, and have for years.

So, are they the norm where you are?

  1. c
    cchan Jan 11, 2014 08:01 AM

    I live in South FLorida where nearly all the construction is new (in the last 20 years) and garbage disposals are ubiquitous here. I have come to rely on mine because I am a big drinker of loose-leaf tea, which is the devil to clean up after if you don't have a garbage disposal.

    Otherwise, I don't tend to put a lot down it--I scrape my plates before I rinse them, so mostly it just alleviates the cleaning of the drain strainer.

    1. Caroline1 Mar 3, 2013 04:50 AM

      I'm surprised by many of these answers. I've had a garbage disposal for at least the last half century, and probably more, except for the less-than-a-year we lived in Greece. I've never had a problem feeding anything to them, including egg shells, pasta, coffee grounds, or lettuce. However, now that I am ancient-of-age and a housekeeper is a must, that's the first lesson a new housekeeper gets: Do NOT turn on the garbage disposal unless water is running, and don't turn the water off for at least twenty seconds after the garbage disposal is turned off And anyone who puts flatware in the garbage disposal gets staked to an ant hill for three days. No exceptions!.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Caroline1
        sandylc Mar 3, 2013 10:02 AM

        Ugh! Try training a husband like mine in clean disposer use! If I'm not around to catch him he just turns water and disposer off at the same time, often before things are completely ground up and rinsed away. No amount of explaining changes this habit. So I just follow behind; otherwise the stink is terrible!

      2. b
        beachmouse Mar 2, 2013 08:46 PM

        They're almost universal for homes on sewer in my part of Florida that's lagely been built after 1950.

        On the flip side, I don't know anyone who composts food waste, largely over concerns that food waste left outside will draw the wrong kind of critters including some dangerous snakes.

        1. johnb Mar 2, 2013 01:31 PM

          I grew up in the small town of Jasper, Indiana. Jasper gained some notice in 1948 as the first town in history to "outlaw garbage." What they did was build a large and capable sewage treatment plant, outlaw the storage or burning of food waste within the city limits, and put out a contract for a major appliance maker (GE got the contract) to provide and install, at very favorable prices, garbage disposals in every house in town in which the owner wanted one. In effect that meant 100% of the town, and Jasper had the first city-wide fully-integrated waste disposal system on the planet. Everybody lived happily ever after.

          Several years later I was riding an airplane, opened a copy of Time, and my jaw dropped when I saw an aerial photo of my home town -- it was a GE ad talking about their role in "the town that outlawed garbage."

          A digression -- Jasper also was the home of the famous "Bionic Bill," the second artificial heart recipient. He didn't live happily or otherwise for very long, unfortunately.

          1. r
            rasputina Mar 2, 2013 07:07 AM

            I've only lived in one house without a garbage disposal. I've lived in 4 different states as an adult.

            1. q
              Querencia Mar 1, 2013 06:59 PM

              I have always had them in houses but have never lived in a high-rise apartment building where they were even allowed.

              1. John E. Feb 27, 2013 11:20 AM

                I used to work with a guy who told me a story about when he was a teenager he worked in a hospital kitchen (I think he was a dishwasher/grunt). They had an industrial type garbage disposal and he said they used to amuse themselves by putting Coke bottles into it and apparently they went down without a problem. (Although I have not seen him in years, I think he's probably doing ok. His dad was a doctor and started an HMO with some other doctors about 35 years ago.)

                1 Reply
                1. re: John E.
                  GH1618 Feb 27, 2013 01:27 PM

                  Disposal salesmen did that 50 years ago to demonstrate them. For one thing, it's tidier when the unit isn't connected to a drain.

                2. Will Owen Feb 26, 2013 10:05 PM

                  Pretty much any house or apartment in Los Angeles County built or upgraded since WW2 has one. Our 1908 house was rehabbed in 1986; we replaced the Insinkerator they installed then a couple of years ago. I use it judiciously, vegetable and fruit peels mostly, and follow the instructions our Home Warranty people hand out, figuring that since they paid for the current disposal unit they probably would rather not do that again.

                  I'd never had one before this, and while it's useful I could probably do well without it. It's just another tool.

                  1. LMAshton Feb 26, 2013 04:05 PM

                    I lived all over western Canada - and by all over, I mean in at least 30 different houses/apartments. None had a garbage disposal. In Sri Lanka and Singapore, no garbage disposal - at least another half dozen places. Auckland, New Zealand had a garbage disposal.

                    1. bagelman01 Feb 26, 2013 03:14 PM

                      absoluetly standard her in south central Connecticut. I almost 60 years I have never lived in a home without one. My wife is a designer/builder/realtor. If an owner wants her to list a home/condo/apt for sale or rent and there is no garbage disposal,wife won't take the listing until it is installed.

                      Back in the early 80s I owned more than 20 three family homes in the inner city. I installed garbage disposals in every apartment. I could not stand the stink and rodents that are attracted to garbage cans containing food waste. This became a major problem after cities cut pickup from twice to once a week,

                      In our current home we have multiple garbage disposals. One in the main kitchen sink, one in the prep sink and a third in the wet bar in the dining room. Because we have dishwasher drawers in the dining room built ins, we need a way to get rid of food waste that might be in the crystal or on the china. I'm not carrying it all into the kitchen to scrape and back to the dining room. This defeats the purpose of the design.

                      1. m
                        MonMauler Feb 26, 2013 12:44 PM

                        Every place I've ever lived has had a garbage disposal. They're standard as far as I'm concerned, and I love them.

                        1. mcf Feb 26, 2013 10:32 AM

                          I have one, and I won't live without one as I did for so long. It makes cleaning up from veggie and other prep work a breeze, and also after meals, disposing of stuff that might end up smelly in the garbage.

                          If you have one, just Don't Ever put artichoke leaves in it. Costly mistake. Or egg shells. After several years of no rpbles, enough settled and built up enough to need removal by a plumber.

                          1. i
                            INDIANRIVERFL Feb 26, 2013 10:19 AM

                            Definately not to be used with a septic tank. They are about as prone to failure as ice makers in fridges. Which is why all of my rental properties have neither.

                            Widespread otherwise in Florida.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                              JayL Jan 11, 2014 06:57 PM

                              Grew up with one (circa 1973) and never remember any septic issues. Lived at that residence for 20+ years.

                              1. re: JayL
                                John E. Jan 11, 2014 09:55 PM

                                Garbage disposals should never be used with septic systems. The septic systems are not set up to 'digest' anything other than human waste and toilet paper. I remember my brother telling his boys that unless they ate it, or wiped their ass with it, it was not to be flushed.

                            2. g
                              GH1618 Feb 26, 2013 09:25 AM

                              Here's a link to a 2007 item in The New York Times on the subject of garbage disposals in the city:


                              1. Savour Feb 26, 2013 09:14 AM

                                In apartments in NYC - never. In apartments and houses in California, every single one. (And not just "new" houses and apartments - we've mostly lived in places built between 1920 and 1940 (though in fairness, the kitchen has been redone)), We compost at home but the garbage disposal is still useful for catching the little bits.

                                1. rockandroller1 Feb 26, 2013 09:09 AM

                                  I've lived in around 20 apartments throughout my adult life, and all had disposals.

                                  1. p
                                    pine time Feb 26, 2013 08:24 AM

                                    My parents home was built in the 1800s, so of course, I didn't grow up with a garbage disposal in the house!

                                    Our first apartment was in a private house (the attic, converted), and it also didn't have one. (This was in the Cincinnati area.)

                                    Once we moved west and rented apartments built from the '60s onward, we've always had one. Both houses we bought came with disposals.

                                    However, as others wrote, I'm using mine less and less now. I was silly and stuffed 1/2 tray of vegetable lasagna down, and we immediately had a $200 plumbing bill. (First question should be: WHY does one have 1/2 tray of leftover lasagna. It was delicious, but 2 guests had called off, ill, and I didn't need the calories. I digress.) So, since then, we've seldom used the disposal, including items which I used to grind regularly: eggshells, plate scrapings, etc.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: pine time
                                      kattyeyes Feb 26, 2013 08:34 AM

                                      Maybe your plumber would tell you otherwise, but I was told expressly NOT to put eggshells down the disposal.

                                      1. re: kattyeyes
                                        pine time Feb 26, 2013 08:38 AM

                                        I did it for 20+ years with no problem, but after the lasagna fiasco (with company standing nearby, of course), I've gotten much more cautious. Per the plumber who rescued us, the #1 verboten is coffee grounds (yes, I know there's an old CH thread with yes/nos on the coffee grounds topic).

                                        1. re: pine time
                                          kattyeyes Feb 26, 2013 08:46 AM

                                          I hear you. Shells never caused an issue here, either, but I try to stay out of harm's way. ;) On a side note, I throw my eggshells outside. Those crazy blue jays EAT THEM. P.S. They like peanuts, too. NOT my house, but it could be!

                                      2. re: pine time
                                        John E. Feb 26, 2013 10:24 AM

                                        Pasta is the biggest no no when it to garbage disposals.The disposal grinds it up and turns it into glue. You could have saved yourself about $170 by going to the hardware store and buying a snake for about $30 that attaches to an electric drill. I learned that because it happened to us. Someone who shall remain nameless (her name has never appeared on these threads) attempted to put about 1-1/2 pounds of angel hair pasta down the disposal. (It was forgotten in the basement refrigerator for a length of time. Why it wasn't dumped into the trash is something I still have not figured out, but I have stopped asking.)

                                      3. GIOny Feb 26, 2013 08:01 AM

                                        I had never even seen one till my sister built a house and put one in. Have never seen one here in NY but there is one in Florida in a condo we stay in. Even if I had the opportunity I wouldn't get one.

                                        1. Midknight Feb 26, 2013 07:13 AM

                                          Toronto here, and to my knowledge, I've never been in a home that has one, nor have I ever known anyone who has one.
                                          So in my opinion, very rare in this here parts. :)

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: Midknight
                                            Sooeygun Feb 27, 2013 06:40 AM

                                            Also Toronto. I've never been in a home with one either. Growing up just outside of Toronto, I was at one friend's house who had one and I was fascinated by it, because I had only seen them on American sitcoms.

                                            According to Toronto city bylaws, they are not allowed in areas with 'combined sewers'. Those are sewers that take both sanitary waste and storm drainage. Even in other areas the city doesn't recommend garburators (according to City of Toronto website, increase of solids in the waste water equals increase in blockages and increase cost of treatment of water).

                                            I just wish the city would get moving on getting Green bins in apt buildings.

                                            1. re: Sooeygun
                                              kattyeyes Feb 27, 2013 06:45 AM

                                              Now THAT is funny. I can't think of ever hearing a garbage disposal on a TV show.

                                              1. re: kattyeyes
                                                GH1618 Feb 27, 2013 07:01 AM



                                                1. re: GH1618
                                                  kattyeyes Feb 27, 2013 07:06 AM

                                                  HA HA HA HA! Thank you! Lucy and Ricky, even!

                                              2. re: Sooeygun
                                                John E. Feb 27, 2013 09:00 AM

                                                What I can't believe is that Toronto has not separated their storm water systems from the sanitary systems. In Minnesota, a city inspector can come to your house to make sure your sump-pump is not pumping water into the sanitary sewer system. Every big thunderstorm would overwhelm the sanitary sewer system if everyone violated that law.

                                                1. re: John E.
                                                  Sooeygun Feb 27, 2013 11:20 AM

                                                  Sewers built after 1954 are separated (we have some sewers dating to 1850's). The city is working on separation of the rest . But it costs a lot of money (Toronto has a backlog of water/wastewater infrastructure renewal of over a billion dollars)

                                            2. s
                                              StrandedYankee Feb 26, 2013 07:12 AM

                                              In newer buildings, they are standard. Not so much in much older buildings. However, some newer apartments built to be dirt cheap in rent won't have them. Anyplace normal-ish in rent, and less than 60 years old, will have them.

                                              1. BiscuitBoy Feb 26, 2013 06:46 AM

                                                A disposal is one of those things that people buy, that I always wondered WTF were they thinking...Like it's equally useless cousin the trash compactor. If you can sell somebody a garbage disposal, you can sell Aruba timeshares in May! it's probably one of the most un-green things foisted upon the public.

                                                32 Replies
                                                1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                  GH1618 Feb 26, 2013 07:03 AM

                                                  No, there's nothing "un-green" about them. A small amount of organic matter is sent through them, to join the usual stuff in the sewer system, where it is all processed together and (in essence) composted. Alternatively, it is put in the trash, taken to a landfill, and composted in the ground amid all the junk that goes out in the trash. Either way, it returns to the earth.

                                                  1. re: GH1618
                                                    Rick Feb 26, 2013 07:08 AM

                                                    I like having a garbage disposal and I assure you I won't be buying any timeshares. I don't put large pieces of food down the garbage disposal that could just as easily go in the trash. Think making a big pot of something messy, let the pan soak overnight. Now, you have a lot of food bits floating around in the water. Just dump it all it out with the disposal running and no stuffed up drain or strainer.

                                                  2. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                    latindancer Feb 26, 2013 07:29 AM

                                                    What's un-green about it?

                                                    1. re: latindancer
                                                      BiscuitBoy Feb 26, 2013 07:47 AM

                                                      Landfills are like huge compost piles...when you remove organics from them, they don't breakdown anymore, cease to get smaller, and cease to act as nature's own filters for the underlying earth and groundwater. When all this stuff is flushed down the drain, it is ultimately mixed with sewage, causes a burden on processes and equipment never meant to deal with it, gets separated, dried, and dumped out to sea

                                                      1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                        kattyeyes Feb 26, 2013 07:48 AM

                                                        Hmm. Watch the YouTube clip. Not sure that's totally on point.

                                                        1. re: kattyeyes
                                                          BiscuitBoy Feb 26, 2013 08:28 AM

                                                          youtube, yes...there's also evidence of hidden lunar cities:


                                                          the AIDS bio-weapon conspiracy:


                                                          Don't forget the "security" cam footage of dogs on a waterslide:


                                                          Come to think of it, youtube and contemporary journalism = not that much different

                                                          1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                            kattyeyes Feb 26, 2013 08:32 AM

                                                            Well, the InSinkErator people created it to explain how their product works--not the kid next door smokin' it up in the basement. I hardly think your comparison holds water. Then again, maybe you think you know your sh*t (AHEM!) better than I do...

                                                            1. re: kattyeyes
                                                              BiscuitBoy Feb 26, 2013 09:00 AM

                                                              couldn't be...gasp...marketing spin to sell a product, could it?! So you're telling me axe body spray makes the wimmen's clothes fall off too?

                                                              1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                                kattyeyes Feb 26, 2013 09:23 AM

                                                                There's spin and there's outright false advertising. I work in marketing/branding, not waste management, so I can't say for sure.

                                                        2. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                          John E. Feb 26, 2013 10:17 AM

                                                          The U.S. Congress banned dumping sludge from wastewater treatment plants our to sea back in 1991.

                                                          1. re: John E.
                                                            BiscuitBoy Feb 26, 2013 10:28 AM

                                                            ah, where can I read about this? I know certain states passed their own regs (NC 1988), but fed mandated nationwide?

                                                            1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                              John E. Feb 26, 2013 10:54 AM

                                                              Here is information from the EPA:


                                                              1. re: John E.
                                                                BiscuitBoy Feb 26, 2013 11:02 AM

                                                                yeah, figured it wasn't congress. So Katty, your disposal by- products aren't going to sea, but still mixing with sewage, yum, much better, and being trucked somewhere...cough, synagro, cough

                                                                1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                                  kattyeyes Feb 26, 2013 11:15 AM

                                                                  No, no, they're making energy so you can read your propaganda even when it's dark out! ;)

                                                                  ETA: You're laughing along, aren't you? You know I'm just havin' fun with you, talkin' trash, as it were...

                                                                  1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                    BiscuitBoy Feb 27, 2013 06:08 AM

                                                                    no, no...the propaganda is for the city dwelling eco-bullies, who wouldn't know a compost pile from gomer pyle. We country boys know by DOING, not reading about it in new yorker. "Too many days in the subdivision..."

                                                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                                      kattyeyes Feb 27, 2013 06:25 AM

                                                                      Ah, well, thank god for you and for John Denver! ;)This city kitty certainly appreciates a country boy who can fix her InSinkErator when a spoon goes awry. Or her flapper, for that matter...

                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                        BiscuitBoy Feb 27, 2013 06:55 AM

                                                                        Ha! Too bad he couldn't fix his plane...plumbing housecalls don't come cheap

                                                                        1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                                          kattyeyes Feb 27, 2013 11:55 AM

                                                                          Oh, tell me about it, I pay for them dearly either way, trust me...

                                                                      2. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                                        latindancer Feb 27, 2013 09:49 AM

                                                                        I live in a major city, have a compost pile and know who Gomer Pyle was.

                                                                        1. re: latindancer
                                                                          BiscuitBoy Feb 27, 2013 11:00 AM

                                                                          bravo...one of the few who put their actions where their mouth is

                                                                    2. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                                      John E. Feb 26, 2013 03:37 PM

                                                                      Actually, the Ocean Dumping Ban Act of 1988 was passed by congress.

                                                                      1. re: John E.
                                                                        BiscuitBoy Feb 27, 2013 05:55 AM

                                                                        wasn't the senate involved? the pres?!!

                                                                        1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                                          John E. Feb 27, 2013 08:58 AM

                                                                          If it was passed in 1988 and went into effect, then yes, President Reagan must have signed the bill. The U.S. Congress includes has two legislative bodies, the sentate and the house.

                                                                          Here's more information about why the law was passed in 1988:


                                                              2. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                                latindancer Feb 27, 2013 09:48 AM


                                                                To think all this time I've been relying on my city's waste water treatment plant to make sure the disposal's junk is treated, my bathroom eilmination is treated, etc.
                                                                You're saying everything just dumps into the ocean, without being properly treated, and we're all doomed?
                                                                BTW....nobody's saying they throw all their biodegradeables down the disposal. I've got plenty of garbage that goes into the landfill, eventually.

                                                                1. re: latindancer
                                                                  BiscuitBoy Feb 27, 2013 11:01 AM

                                                                  see John's post (not sea)

                                                            2. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                              kattyeyes Feb 26, 2013 07:45 AM

                                                              They sound pretty green to me. What am I missing?

                                                              I have an InSinkErator, came with the condo here in Connecticut. I like it EXCEPT on stupid user error days when I don't notice a little spoon has slipped in. OOPS.


                                                              Or perhaps I'm wearing my marketing hat?!

                                                              1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                BiscuitBoy Feb 26, 2013 08:56 AM

                                                                CT ....That complex you can see off 91 in the Branerd Rd area? Part of that is dedicated to sewage treatment, some of that sludge is burned to make steam for power. The most efficient burn comes from the garbage waste stream, not sewage, hence not your insinkerator. If you're lucky enough to live in NC:


                                                              2. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                                John E. Feb 26, 2013 07:57 AM

                                                                We recently replaced our garbage disposal. Most of the time the food waste that can go down is put into the trash bin. The few remaining scraps are then sent down the drain after going through the garbage disposal. Mostly it's for convenience to not have scrape up every last scrap and fish stuff out of the drain.

                                                                1. re: John E.
                                                                  BiscuitBoy Feb 26, 2013 08:29 AM


                                                                2. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                                  Dr LM Feb 26, 2013 11:02 AM

                                                                  So the real question is the comparative green-ness of different methods to dispose of small amounts of organic kitchen waste. Grinding it up using drinking water and sending it to municipal WWT facilities which are frequently overburdened is not great. However, sanitary landfills should NOT promote biodegradation - they are nothing like compost piles if managed safely. So putting them in your garbage is also a strain on municipal facilities with no benefit. Which one is worse depends on many factors so you'd probably have to ask your city hall. Of course the best approach is to compost in your own yard if you can, or via municipal collection if you've got it.
                                                                  Now trash compactors can be really beneficial for those with limited trash can storage space and for the pick-up - you can reduce the volume of your typical household garbage. Here in Southern Ontario, neither compactors or disposals are common, but organics are picked up for composting.

                                                                  1. re: Dr LM
                                                                    kattyeyes Feb 26, 2013 11:17 AM

                                                                    Agree. I guess it's about relative shades of green! And that answer will differ person to person, locale to locale:

                                                                    (Uneaten) food for thought here:

                                                                    1. re: Dr LM
                                                                      BiscuitBoy Feb 26, 2013 11:38 AM

                                                                      my compactor is my size 12 boot...

                                                                  2. h
                                                                    Harters Feb 26, 2013 06:31 AM

                                                                    Rare in the UK.

                                                                    There was one in the house when we bought it, 30+ years ago. We replaced it when it broke. When that broke, we didnt bother replacing and have never missed it .

                                                                    Always thought it was more trouble than it was worth. And now our local council is heavily into recycling it's easy to put food waste in the bins for them to collect.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Harters
                                                                      sandylc Feb 26, 2013 08:29 PM

                                                                      Harters, two questions:

                                                                      -What trouble is involved with a disposer?
                                                                      -Doesn't the food stink horribly in the waste bins when waiting for pickup?

                                                                      1. re: sandylc
                                                                        Harters Feb 27, 2013 01:43 AM

                                                                        It's now around 20 years since we got rid of the last waste disposal - I can't recall the fatal faults on them now, I'm afraid.

                                                                        And,no, I've not noticed any smell. Until about 2 years back, the council only collected green waste (garden waste, vegetable peelings, etc). Since then, a change in the processing plant means that we can add any food waste to the green waste (including bones, etc). Collection is weekly.

                                                                        1. re: sandylc
                                                                          babybat Mar 3, 2013 10:52 AM

                                                                          Also in the UK - we have weekly collections of food waste; there's a caddy for in the kitchen, which is supplied with (free) compostable liner bags, and a bin which lives outside. We usually empty the caddy every couple of days or so, and the bin is collected weekly. It doesn't smell that bad because it's collected frequently, and it's really not a problem in the colder months. It can get a bit stinky in midsummer, but then, before we had the food waste bins, you just had the same stink coming from your garbage bin.

                                                                          I think the local council does some kind of industrial-scale hot composting with it, where everything breaks down really quickly, because we can put pretty much any organic waste in there. It's easy and convenient, so I don't mind doing it!

                                                                          1. re: babybat
                                                                            CanadaGirl Mar 3, 2013 06:26 PM

                                                                            That's pretty much the same collection process where I am (Nova Scotia). However, we only have weekly organics collection during the warm parts of the year. Our non-organic waste is collected every other week, and it shouldn't smell since the items that could decay are in the "green bin"

                                                                      2. r
                                                                        robt5265 Feb 25, 2013 09:35 PM

                                                                        We moved into a new house when I was a year old in 1955, and it had a disposer. All the houses in this new " nothing special" subdivision had one.

                                                                        1. g
                                                                          GH1618 Feb 25, 2013 08:38 PM

                                                                          "Standard" is not the right word. Garbage disposals are common, perhaps even usual, in newer construction, but uncommon in older houses and apartments unless the kitchens have been remodeled. I didn't have a garbage disposal until the nid-1980s, when I moved into a newer building. My mother still doesn't have one, even though she remodeled the kitchen in her 1920 house around 1970.

                                                                          Likewise, In-Sink-Erator is not "standard," it is "common." In a new apartment building or suburban development, all kitchens might be built with this brand. My apartment was. When it broke, I put in a better brand.

                                                                          The Bureau of the Census might have data on this.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: GH1618
                                                                            John E. Feb 25, 2013 09:04 PM

                                                                            It certainly appears geography and the water treatment situations are the biggest factors in whether garbage disposals are 'standard' or 'common' in any given locale.

                                                                            1. re: John E.
                                                                              GH1618 Feb 25, 2013 09:35 PM

                                                                              No, "standard" is a matter of some standards-setting body requiring them. Anywhere that the local building codes require them, they can be said to be "standard."

                                                                              They can also be said to be "standard" in a development. In my building, every kitchen was built with a disposal. They were "standard" (not an option).

                                                                              1. re: GH1618
                                                                                John E. Feb 26, 2013 07:54 AM

                                                                                I was not necessarily referring to laws or building codes. That's why I used the quotes. I still believe the reason has more to do with the age and capacity of water treatment systems and tradition rather than just random installation. (By the way, until 1997, garbage disposal units in home kitchen were illegal in NYC.)

                                                                                1. re: John E.
                                                                                  GH1618 Feb 26, 2013 09:01 AM

                                                                                  The NYC restriction probably was due the high population density and limitations of the sewer system (I'm guessing).

                                                                                  1. re: GH1618
                                                                                    John E. Feb 26, 2013 10:13 AM

                                                                                    Apparently, it was about the fear that the sanitary sewer and waste water treatment system would be harmed by garbage disposals. I am sure the restriction was lifted because they knew that not everybody would go out and install one in their kitchen sink.

                                                                          2. John E. Feb 25, 2013 06:59 PM

                                                                            Garbage disposals are standard in Minnesota. They seem to be the same in Arizona. Even most apartments seem to have them.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: John E.
                                                                              sandylc Feb 26, 2013 08:27 PM

                                                                              Not standard in apartments in Minnesota. Not one apartment I lived in here had one - my son is currently experiencing the same thing.

                                                                              1. re: sandylc
                                                                                John E. Feb 26, 2013 08:53 PM

                                                                                That's interesting because every apartment I lived in (years ago) had a garbage disposal, three in the metro and two Duluth (two in Green Bay as well). I know I could certainly live without one, much as I could live without the spray hose at the kitchen sink, but both are useful to me.

                                                                                1. re: John E.
                                                                                  sandylc Feb 26, 2013 09:04 PM

                                                                                  I lived in one in the 'burbs and four in Mpls. Kid has lived in two in Mpls. Not a single disposer. Out of SIX apartments! Only one oldish apartment in the bunch. Ugh.

                                                                                  1. re: sandylc
                                                                                    John E. Feb 26, 2013 09:39 PM

                                                                                    I bet it has something to do with the cost of installing dozens of disposals when the apartment buildings are under construction. A retired couple (friends of my parents) actually took out the garbage disposal unit from their Arizona winter home while it was still functioning. I don't know why they didn't just leave it and not use it.

                                                                            2. c
                                                                              cleobeach Feb 25, 2013 05:27 PM

                                                                              Very common in my area of PA. But, local municipal sewer authorities are struggling with the amount of food waste going into the sewer systems and I foresee municipalities placing restrictions on them in the future.

                                                                              We have one now but when it breaks, I can easily live without it. As time goes by, I use it less and less.

                                                                              Growing up, ours was the only house that I knew of that had one but I don't remember anyone using it. Everyone just threw discarded food out in the field.

                                                                              1. k
                                                                                kcshigekawa Feb 25, 2013 03:57 PM

                                                                                The house my parents moved into in 1968 had one; AFAIK, they've had one ever since. Me, in one apt. in Connecticut and several in San Francisco, never.

                                                                                Does anyone else call the garbage disposal "the pig"?

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: kcshigekawa
                                                                                  sandylc Feb 26, 2013 08:25 PM

                                                                                  Hubby calls it the dragon.

                                                                                2. w
                                                                                  winemonkey Feb 25, 2013 03:20 PM

                                                                                  In NYC, no.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: winemonkey
                                                                                    ratgirlagogo Feb 25, 2013 08:00 PM

                                                                                    Second the emotion that they are definitely not standard equipment in NYC. Can hardly remember ever seeing one, actually.
                                                                                    We had one growing up in Los Angeles and they are more common in California generally, I'd say.

                                                                                    1. re: winemonkey
                                                                                      mwhitmore Feb 26, 2013 08:19 AM

                                                                                      I think they are illegal in NYC. Or at least used to be.

                                                                                      1. re: mwhitmore
                                                                                        Caitlin McGrath Feb 26, 2013 01:47 PM

                                                                                        They've been legal in NYC since the late '90s, but definitely hadn't started to become standard when I moved away several years ago, and I think still prohibited by owners of some buildings with older plumbing.

                                                                                        I grew up in, and now have moved back to, Northern California, and I think they're fairly common here, but I've only ever lived in one place that had one, and my parents did not (and still don't) have them in their homes. Quite a few cities in the SF Bay Area now do municipal composting of food scraps these days, however.

                                                                                    2. gaffk Feb 25, 2013 03:07 PM

                                                                                      As a child, we didn't have one. But when my parents redid their kitchen (probably mid-late 70s) one was installed. I have never lived anywhere since that didn't have a garbage disposal and I don't know of any friends or family that don't have one. This response covers Philadelphia, Southeast PA, NJ, Ohio and Delaware.

                                                                                      I should also add I have never lived anywhere that did not have public water and sewer. And now that I live in a house with 1960 era plumbing, I use the disposal as sparingly as possible.

                                                                                      1. juliejulez Feb 25, 2013 02:56 PM

                                                                                        The only places I had them were either newly remodeled or brand new apartments... most that were older (as in built in the early 1900s-1920s) did not, and a lot of the larger pre-war buildings in Chicago prohibit them. My condo, while an old building, had all new plumbing throughout the building all the way out to the street, so I had one there. But, my former house, built in 1953, did not have one, but my mom's house, built in the late 1980s, does. My current home, which was built in 2008, has one.

                                                                                        My home inspector told me that they're not very good to have with older plumbing.

                                                                                        1. m
                                                                                          mpjmph Feb 25, 2013 02:30 PM

                                                                                          My two childhood houses were built in 1890 (in NC) and 1920 (in VA), and did not have them. All other houses/apartments I've lived in had/have them, and all were built between 1960-1980 (and all in NC). All houses were on municipal sewer, no septic tanks.

                                                                                          1. c
                                                                                            Cheez62 Feb 25, 2013 02:11 PM

                                                                                            Common here as well (Ohio), though we don't have one. We do have a septic system, and that would be why. There are lots of opinions on both sides of whether it is harmful to your septic system, but I figure why take the chance?

                                                                                            1. j
                                                                                              jlhinwa Feb 25, 2013 02:01 PM

                                                                                              Where I live (Seattle area) they are very much standard. It would be highly unlikely to find a home that didn't have one...even modest apartments and houses come equipped with one.

                                                                                              The only exception I can think of is in some cases where a home is on septic instead of sewer. It can be problematic to have a garbage disposal with some septic systems but most folks I know who have encountered this have found a way to make it work.

                                                                                              1. westsidegal Feb 25, 2013 01:47 PM

                                                                                                when i lived in new york, i didn't have one.
                                                                                                when i lived in connecticut and in california, i had/have one when i lived in modern apartments/condos, but did have one but when i lived in 1920's construction ..

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: westsidegal
                                                                                                  Scoutmaster Feb 25, 2013 02:00 PM

                                                                                                  Fairly standard here, unless you're on a private septic system.

                                                                                                  In-Sink-Erator is pretty much the standard in the industry.

                                                                                                2. Motosport Feb 25, 2013 01:41 PM

                                                                                                  I move around a lot (NY State) and have never had a garbage disposal.
                                                                                                  My sister in law lives South of Boston and has one. She is the only one I know who does.

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