Diva Design Diary

By Holly Peterson

Diva Design Diary is about bringing the latest interior design trends and tips to our existing clients, as well as future clients...enjoy!

The Beauty of Trash Compactors

By Holly Peterson

Trash compactors have a pretty sketchy reputation, don't they?

What turned trash compactors around?
A compactor turns about six bags of trash into one 30-pound bag. So you only have to take out the trash once a week instead of every day. And I've never met anyone who loves taking out the trash. There's a new model by Broan with a door that swings out,s o the trash is easy to access.

How exactly do trash compactors work?
You touch the start button, a flat plate powers down, compresses the trash, and lifts back up automatically. It basically does all the work for you in 45 seconds. Some are more powerful than others.

How much power do I need?
If you have a family that generates a lot of trash, I would recommend going with the maximum amount - 3,000 pounds of force - so you can get the maximum amount of trash in each bag.

How big are they and how much do they weigh?
They're 15 inches wide, 34 1/2 inches tall, 24 inches deep. They weigh about 150 pounds. So it doesn't have to be this big, ugly thing, standing there bulking up your kitchen. Most of them are built into cabinets, and now there's a new Broan model that's even shallower - 22 1/4 inches deep. Or you can get a stainless-steel, black, or white freestanding unit and ass a cutting board top so it extends your counter surface.

Are they easy to install?
If it's a freestanding unit, just plug it in.

What about the smell?
New models address that. There's a compartment for a charcoal filter. They run about $5 each. Broan makes a model that has an odor-reduction disc that cycles through automatically for up to six months. But really, when people complain about the smell, just put a piece of newspaper over the trash. It's a simple fix, a little trick no company tells you about. That way, when the compacting plate comes down, it doesn't touch the trash, just newspaper, so it doesn't get dirty before it lifts back up.
What other accessories do I need?
Just the plastic bags, which are about $1 each.
How good are compactors for the environment?
Some people say that they're not green, that the trash is so tightly compacted that it slows decomposition. But they're great for compacting recyclables. Often, people will buy two compactors - one for trash and one for recyclables. Some areas charge for recycling by the bin, and you use fewer bins by compacting your bottles and cans. Not glass, though - I don't recommend crushing glass.

How much can I expect to spend?
There's a Whirlpool model for $550. A high-level Electrolux is about $1,500.

Safety features?
Oh yeah, once you hit start, you can't open it. No way a kid can open the door and put her brother in! Also, Broan has a model with a removable key - you can't even turn it on without the key. Kids can close it, but it won't start, so they can't throw in toys or glass bottles. Only you can start it, with your key.

I'd have to say that all the negative things you could think of are taken care of - they're not smelly, noisy, bulky. They're convenient. You take out the trash less, you contribute less to the landfill. But this is the coolest thing: If very single household in the U.S. had a trash compactor, our landfills could be reduced by 80 percent. Can you believe that? Huge. It's also a kitchen appliance that guys are really hip to, since taking out the trash is usually the guy's job.

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