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Amparo Bertram

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06:57 am: The kitchen sink
I was cleaning the sink anyway (since it's burnable trash day), so I thought I'd take a moment to talk about one of the more mundane cultural differences.

Japanese sinks, for the most part, don't come equipped with garbage disposals, nor is the drain able to handle organic matter. There is a cylindrical basket designed to fit in the drain to catch any food particles washed from dishes. In addition, most sinks will have another triangular basket in the corner for collecting large pieces of organic matter. It is customary to buy disposable filters to line these two baskets, making cleanup somewhat (though not very much) easier.

Now, keep in mind that burnable trash day only comes twice a week in my town. In winter, when the kitchen is largely frozen, this isn't much of a problem. But in the heat of summer, the smell of the food in the baskets can become overwhelming after only a day or so, particularly if you're like me and tend to cook with onions. A garbage can with a lid for burnable trash is a necessity...at least then you only have to suffer the smell for a brief moment when you pop the lid open to throw something away.

The second thing of note is that many Japanese kitchens do not have hot-and-cold taps. In order to obtain hot water, you have to use the gas water heater mounted on the wall next to the sink. Adjusting the temperature is a bit of a pain, so I generally leave it set at the same temperature for long periods of time.



Date:September 8th, 2004 03:30 am (UTC)

An idea for the odor

"...at least then you only have to suffer the smell for a brief moment when you pop the lid open to throw something away."

I've been thinking about this issue for the last couple of days. Last spring our city made available at reduced rate a "composter bin" to use out doors. When we went to pick one up, they were also composter peripherals including a plastic lidded bucket to use at the sink to hold the organic matter until taking it outside to the bin. The instructions with it said to line the bucket with newspaper. The purpose of it was to make clean up easier. The instructions said to just dump everything into the bin, since the newspaper was also compostable. The instructions for using the big bin said after each addition to throw a layer of dirt or grass clippings on it to keep the compost odor free. Whenever we do that, it really is odor free. Whenever we don't, we can smell it when we lift the lid.

I was also remembering the dry composting latrines we used to build in our Habitat for Humanity projects. They were odor free by sprinkling a layer of ashes or lime powder (the kind used to add to soil or for chalking lines on a sports playing field) after each use. I know that those worked.

Putting the ideas together, I was wondering if lining your kitchen container with newspaper, or possibly wrapping each new addition to the container in newspaper before depositing it into the container would either eliminate the odor completely or at least diminish it in the three or four day span you have to deal with it in between trash pick up dates. It really does make clean up a lot easier. An alternative idea if lime powder or potting soil is available at a reasonable price to try sprinkling a layer of the garbage each time.

When there is no odor, there are no fruit flies. That's a real bonus.

Love, Mom
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