We answer readers’ questions about trash sorting and offer guidelines to help you recycle and compost like a pro.
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Q. If I get my hair cut at home, what do I do with the hair? Can fingernail clippings be composted?
— Chris, Seattle
A. Hair and fingernail clippings go in the garbage. If your hair is long enough, you can donate it to Locks of Love, but of course most of your locks won’t be. Alternatively (if this doesn’t gross you out), you can ball up your hair and clipped fingernails and put the wad in a tree. Birds will be happy to use it to make their nests.
Q. Is it better to put food scraps through the garbage disposal or put them in the compost/yard waste bin? Seems like they get composted either way at the waste water treatment plant or Cedar Grove.
— Peter, Mercer Island
A. It’s better to compost food. Food that goes down the drain does not get composted — it ends up in the sewer, where it can actually harm the water treatment process. It can also clog pipes and attract rats to the sewer.
Kelly Shea / The Seattle Times
Q. If my backyard chicken dies, what do I do with the carcass? (I’m a vegetarian and don’t eat chicken.)
— Rebecca, Seattle
A. Though it’s not pretty, dead animals go in the garbage, as long as they’re lighter than 15 pounds. Animals larger than that should be taken to a veterinary clinic, animal shelter or pet cemetery for disposal. Your other option is to bury the chicken in your yard, but be sure to bury it deep so varmints don’t get to it.
Q. I have a parrot that is trained to poop on paper towels. Where does that go?
— Elaine, Seattle
A. Garbage. Paper towels are compostable only if covered with food, not cleaning chemicals or poop. Animal waste, including human waste, can carry disease. The only exception is manure from livestock, which is OK to compost.