I have two “lazy” compost piles, one for food waste and one for leaves. I throw stuff in a pile and leave it to rot in the open – no mixing, no watering, no balancing carbon/nitrogen. I’ve been doing this for decades, and it surprises me how long it takes some things to break down. The leaves are basically dirt in a year, but there are some corn cobs out there as old as my grown children.
Popular Mechanics has a nice article talking about this process, and why making even a simple compost bin speeds up the process enormously. You can read it here.
Unlike recycling, which has turned out to be something of a bait-and-switch, composting is always an environmental win. You should be doing it.
What about using a garbage disposal? Is that environmentally sound?
Do NOT use a garbage disposal if you have a septic system – it can really screw things up. If you’re on city sewer system it’s OK, although composting is environmentally better (but composting isn’t always feasible depending on how much property you have)