Speed Reads

this argument is trash

Why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's garbage disposal naivety is totally justified

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) hasn't seen a garbage disposal before. Most of rural America probably hasn't either.

On Monday night, the freshman congressmember posted an Instagram story documenting a "bougie" Washington, D.C. apartment, which apparently contained the first sink with a garbage disposal she'd ever seen. Some people on the other side of the drain tried to claim Ocasio-Cortez was spinning up an anti-elitist fiction, but the disposal facts beg to differ.

Ocasio-Cortez, who hails from the Bronx, has a pretty good excuse for her Monday night wonderment: Garbage disposals were banned in much of New York City from the 1970's until 1997. The city thought "an onslaught of ground food pulp would overpower its intricate, 13,000-mile underground network of water mains and sewers," The New York Times wrote in 1992. Most old apartments have never gotten a sinklift, making garbage disposals a top-tier amenity to this day.

Some conservatives tried to spin Ocasio-Cortez's claim as proof that she was out of touch with everyday Americans, but a garbage disposal debate certainly wasn't the way to do it. As several plumbers and websites recommend, you probably shouldn't use a garbage disposal if you're connected to a septic system. About a fifth of U.S. households, largely in rural areas, rely on those tanks, the Environmental Protection Agency says. And while the very blue New England does largely count on septic systems, so do the GOP-voting Southeastern states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky.

Perhaps we should all just let this argument grind to a halt.