Thursday, February 7, 2013

The kitchen compost bin, Part 1


[Preface for non-Ontarians: In Ontario, households keep a small "compost bin" in their kitchens. Food waste is put in the bin, and collected from the curb weekly.]

Is a kitchen compost bin muktzeh?

Items which have no use on Shabbat are muktzeh, and this includes meal residue which is not usable as food for people or animals. A receptacle which holds only such items is muktzeh as well.

Kitchen compost bins tend to hold items which are edible for common animals. However, most of us do not feed animals out of our compost bins; indeed, we lock our bins when they are outside, to prevent animals from eating the food. Therefore, the bins are muktzeh. [The leniency of graf shel re'i is hard to apply, because a covered compost bin does not disturb use of the kitchen.]

People who wish to move their compost bin on Shabbos should first place a usable item, like a towel, atop the bin, so that it holds usable items as well as muktzeh items. If the bin holds compost when Shabbos starts, then the usable item must be on it from before Shabbos as well.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 308:27-30, 310:8; Chatam Sofer on Magen Avraham 308:51; Mishneh Berurah 308:116, 119; Aruch haShulchan Orach Chaim 308:55; Piskei Teshuvos 308:22; Mishneh Halachos 5:49; Az Nidbiru 7:51)

Have a great day,

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