My waste bowl is the most important thing on my kitchen counter

I’m not one of those people who insists on keeping their counters free of gadgets. No, I have an absurdly large ice cream maker (the kind that makes the good ice cream, thank you very much), an air fryer, a fancy toaster, and an assortment of cans and containers. But the most important thing on my counter is my beloved garbage bowl, a collection of everything from fresh fruit to cooking.

I originally stole the garbage bowl name from celebrity chef Rachael Ray, who has both extolled its virtues and sold her own for years. On her cooking show, Ray used the bowl to conveniently collect vegetable peels and scraps while she prepared her 30-minute meals, making them easier to transport to the bin once your pasta bake or chicken pot pie is safely in the oven. Ray’s waste bowl is typically only used during the cooking process and stored in a cupboard. But getting a bowl out of the cupboard is a pain, especially when you need one in a pinch. As such, my trash can stays out on the counter forever, just waiting for its moment to shine.

Sometimes it’s empty, sometimes it’s full of the fancy tomatoes I bought at the farmer’s market, and sometimes it’s the storage place for the stash of various candies I couldn’t resist in the checkout line at Japanese dollar store Daiso, but whatever the use, this toast is always hard work. Occasionally it gets a quick wash and is used as a vessel for a Caesar or potato salad when guests come. Most of the time, though, it just sits on the counter and looks cute while holding a few lemons or limes.

A waste bowl intended for use as a functional piece of furniture should not be just any old bowl. It should look nice and complement your space, while being infinitely multi-functional. There’s a bowl for every kitchen aesthetic – think sleek stoneware for a modern vibe, or old-school Forest Fancies Pyrex for a ’70s vibe – and even the most devoted minimalists won’t be able to argue with such a practical decoration. Mine is a vintage Fire-King swirl bowl in jadeite glass, picked up cheap at an antique store because it had a dead bug sitting inside. After a thorough sanitizing, it has been sitting on my counter ever since, and I use it at least once a week for an impromptu task.

But even if you’re mostly just using it for pretty fruit storage, it’s easy enough to tip the bowl out, use it to collect potato peels while you’re cooking, then rinse it and put it away—and your lemons, or whatever either way – back on the disk. You’ll use fewer dishes, make fewer trips to the trash while cooking, and get a new piece of kitchen decor that gives your space a lived-in yet completely put-together feel.

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