11 Things That Are Too Unsafe to Dump Down the Sink, but We’re Constantly Doing It
When about 2.1 people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, many of the rest start asking themselves what they can do to stop contributing to water pollution. Some of the solutions are institutional, but others are personal. We sometimes throw things down the drain that not only can cause it to clog, but worst of all, can contaminate the water supply so much that not even water treatment plants can purify it again.
Bright Side is eager to help you avoid these habits that pollute water in high degrees, so we’ll share some of the things you shouldn’t pour into the sink. Plus, we’ll save you many calls to the plumber.
1. Products claiming to be flushable like wipes or cat litter
Products that claim to be flushable, like wipes and cat litter, most of the time aren’t. They can make a big mess inside your pipes, clogging them and causing major issues. But the most harmful effects come from the fact that they contaminate water with the chemicals they carry.
And watch out especially for cat litter since it comes into contact with the bacteria present in a kitty’s waste. These bacteria are so strong that, on many occasions, they survive water treatment and end up becoming a threat to other animals like otters, as research has shown. It’s better to treat these like regular garbage and dispose of them accordingly.
2. Every type of oil, fat, and grease
You may love everything with olive oil or those homemade French fries, but try pouring the excess oil in a jar and putting it in your garbage instead of tossing it down the drain.
These products work as blenders and make all the other waste inside your drain come together and create a thick clog. They’re almost 50% of the reason why sewer overflows happen. These liquids are also non-treatable by water systems, so they end up polluting the environment and becoming a hazard for animals and plants if we don’t dispose of them properly.
3. Cleaning products
Cleaning products have high concentrations of harsh chemicals to be able to deal with waste and kill bacteria in your home, so imagine what they can do if they manage to go down the drain. Sure, they definitely won’t block your pipes, but the consequences aren’t trivial.
If these chemicals make it to the water system they pollute and intoxicate the water supply. The corrosive effects they can have on our land, oceans, and bodies is alarming. Try to use all of the product before disposing or recycling the empty bottles.
If you’re artistic, remember that some types of paint are toxic. If you want to paint your bedroom, no matter if it’s oil-based or water-based paint, it’s a major issue. So much so, that some areas even have regulations on how to dispose of it and treat it as a hazardous product.
The amount of toxic substances and chemicals they possess, like biocide, are so pervasive they can be a threat to humans, animals, and the environment if they get into your local water system. If you’re done painting that room and still have half a gallon of paint left, it’s to better donate it or gift it to a friend than to jeopardize everyone’s health.
5. Coffee grounds
Many of us may assume that since coffee grounds are so tiny, they can’t create problems in your kitchen pipes. But beware: Plumbers agree that these small grounds get stuck inside your pipes, mingle with other types of waste like oil, and create a real mess. It’s actually one of the main reasons behind blocked pipes.
What you can do instead is toss them in the trash or reuse them: You can add them to one of your flower pots for a homemade luxurious fertilizer.
6. Any type of medicine
Pills, drops, and other remedies may not cause pipe problems, but they’re one of the most common polluters of the environment. Doctors used to advise patients to toss medications down the drain, but these harsh chemicals can’t be eliminated in water treatment plants.
They end up not only contaminating the environment, but also altering it. Some animals, like fish that have been exposed to medication, modify their development and behavior. It’s a good idea to mix it with other types of waste and dispose of it like you would with regular waste.
7. Car oil
As a lubricant, it will clog the heck out of your pipes, but car fluids, just like with paint, are no joking matter. Car oil and other car fluid disposal is regulated by guidelines in several locations. They are toxic products and if they end up in our ecosystem, they can have serious negative effects.
8. Produce stickers
Not many people throw these tiny stickers into their kitchen sink, but those that do should watch out. They’re not harmless, and the least they can do is clog your home’s pipes. If they end up in the water plant, it may not filter or remove it, making their way into the ocean and harming wildlife with their chemical glue and plastic surfaces. In short, they’re just another type of plastic pollution that are considered to be microplastics.
Try putting them in the trash whenever you can to avoid harming marine animals.
9. Any type of raw meat
If you think that just a bit of that chicken is ok to put down your kitchen garbage disposal drain, think again. Throwing raw meat or meat trimmings down there, as small as they may be, makes them end up sticking to the blades most of the time. One this builds up on the blades, it renders them useless and encourages the further clogging of your pipes. What’s also annoying is that the smell of rotting meat can be very unpleasant and make your stomach feel funny if you’re sensitive enough.
Put this in with your regular garbage and avoid the hassle of calling a plumber and the smell of dead animal inside your house.
Don’t pour milk down your kitchen drain or any dairy product, for that matter. Milk can use up a lot of oxygen to be able to break it down in water cleaning facilities, which translates into less oxygen in the water for animals in the sea and rivers. The pollution effect is so significant that some governments like the UK even have regulations to control the disposal of milk, since large quantities of it can even eradicate fish populations.
If you don’t want more milk, try adding it to a recipe or start purchasing smaller bottles of milk or portions of cheese.
11. Any beauty or personal care product
As with many of the products listed above, some of your beauty and personal care products may contain chemicals that can infiltrate into the water system. Some of these can’t be eliminated by water treatment plants, so they are released into the ecosystem.
You may think that pouring that expired cleanser or old perfume down your bathroom sink will not harm anything, but many people do this, and they create high amounts of pollution, which jeopardizes wildlife safety. Try giving that small amount of perfume to a friend instead, or just toss it into your regular garbage.
Bonus: Pasta water
You can pour your pasta water down the sink, that’s OK. But why not use it to cook? Save some of it and add it to your pasta sauce. Starch from the pasta that’s now in the water will make your sauce smoother. Just ask any Italian chef!
Now you can make water safer to drink and use for many more people. What’s your personal way of helping the planet? Share it below so that the community can start practicing it too!