The Help Desk: At your disposal

Every Friday, Cienna Madrid offers solutions to life’s most vexing literary problems. Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to

Dear Cienna,

This isn’t book-related, but I like your advice and you seem to have a good head on your shoulders, so I’d hope you’d entertain my question. Is it okay to run food through the garbage disposal even though the city of Seattle runs a composting program? Whenever I flip the switch on some food scraps in my garbage disposal, I always feel like I’m stealing vital nutrients from some plants somewhere. But sometimes the disposal is more convenient! Should I deactivate the disposal completely to remove temptation?

Joe, Portage Bay

Dear Joe,

I'm glad you asked. You can find conflicting reports about whether garbage disposals are more environmentally friendly than other forms of organic waste disposal, so let's not focus on that. Consider this instead: Garbage disposals – or rather, food disposals – are a great example of the economics of laziness that allow capitalist production to flourish in all its illogical glory. Think about their function – using large quantities of potable water to dispose of food scraps that minutes before you were willing to put into your mouth, but that are now unworthy of touching your hands.

No, Seattle isn't suffering from a water shortage but no city is an island and look at the dry and sandy fucking California residents just suffered through – or Cape Town residents are currently bracing for. Do we really want to continue promoting that kind of water use because we can't be bothered to compost?

Buck up and compost, Joe. Or at the very least, deactivate your disposal and install two chickens under your kitchen sink. In my experience, they'll happily eat all your food scrap waste barring onions and garlic casings.