torstar file photo


This file photo from Poggenpohl Studio shows how waste containers can be built into a kitchen.


Composting kitchen waste and recycling food containers are practices some folks embraced long ago. For many others they’ve finally become, if not embraced, then accepted as a necessity. And our kitchens have had to change. Once upon a time, we had only to worry about garbage, but no longer. Now, we’ve got several waste and recycling streams to store and empty. The kitchen continues to be the place where we produce much of our household waste and recyclables. At the least, we now have to rethink how we store these materials.

To avoid the design crime of storing various types of waste in a corner near the back door or balcony, we’re adamant that kitchens should include a well thought-out strategy for handling waste, recycling and composting materials. If you’re fortunate enough to be doing a kitchen reno, make sure you include adequate space for storage of composting, waste and recycling of various kinds. Even for a kitchen that is not changing, it is imperative to provide space for good-looking waste and recycling storage solutions. Check out Home Depot and other kitchen storage retailers for ideas on tidy solutions.

For example, we love to see an integrated compartment in the cabinetry for recyclables. It looks like the rest of your kitchen cabinetry, but would hold a covered bucket for the compostables, garbage and generously-sized containers for recyclable papers, tins, glass and whatever else your municipality will recycle, all hidden away behind a door. Make sure you have sufficient room for several days’ worth of recyclables, so you don’t need to empty the container daily.

And put the storage in the right place. People often think they should put recycling and composting away from the food preparation areas, but that is precisely where you need them. You need that compost storage area near the place where you cut and peel vegetables. To put it anywhere else will make the tedious trip to the compost bucket with dripping peels all the more irritating! Where do you unpack your food? Keep those compost and recycling containers conveniently close at hand.

Some people complain about smell and dirt, but the truth is that compost does not stink unless it is left too long. Compost, and recycling to a lesser degree, needs to be regularly transferred and containers washed to avoid smells and dirt. There’s no way around this. One thing is certain — the importance of managing our waste in the kitchen to reduce the amount of garbage we produce is not going away anytime soon. And kitchens will have to reflect this new reality in a way that is both stylish and functional.

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