When it comes to flushing items down the drain or toilet, many of us don’t give a second thought to where it goes. We understand there’s a series of interconnected pipes that leads to a treatment plant somewhere or other, but once you flush that toilet or wash stuff down the sink, many of us think that the things being washed away aren’t our problem anymore.
A simple thing like washing the car or spraying for bugs can have a flow on impact on our environment if harmful elements are washed down drains or get into stormwater drains.
In summer we’re more likely to get out into our backyards and get around to some of those odd jobs we’ve been putting off and this is the time where it’s wise to keep an eye on what you’re putting down your drains.
Here’s a rundown of items you definitely want to avoid putting down your sink, toilet, storm drains or street drains.
Now if you’re using your fertiliser on your garden there’s not much chance of it going down the drains as it will be turned into the soil where your plants are doing the job intended.
If however you have old fertilizers and chemicals in your shed that you need to get rid of, please don’t put these down the drain as this will lead these chemicals into our waterways. Your local tip is the best place to ask about dumping chemicals, or failing that talk to your local council and they should be able to point you to a collection area or a private provider that will remove your chemicals and fertilisers for you.
Oils and grease
Oils and great can do damage to your pipes. For example if you pour oil down your sink there’s a good chance it’s going to solidify and clog up your pipes. Running hot water or a drain cleaner can sometimes help but if it’s a big blockage you’ll need to call a plumber.
If you have a car that leaks oil, there’s a good chance that’s going to run off your driveway and into the water system. Best thing to do is get it fixed, but if that’s an issue an oil tray or old bit of carpet under the car will help to catch that excess oil whilst you get it fixed.
This may seem pretty harmless as most animals go outside right? If you’re walking your dog and let it do it’s business next to the footpath there’s a good chance this will make it’s way into the gutters and then our waterways.
Bacteria in dog droppings can make marine life and humans very sick. Some of the viruses humans can pick up from dog poo are Rabies, Parvovirus, Coronavirus, Distemper and Canine Hepatitis.
Paint and paint thinners
We’ve all got old paint tins hanging around in our shed. Often we try to open them only to have rust and other bits fall into our very old paint tins and now the paint is ruined. Don’t pour this down the drain as this is incredibly harmful to aquatic life. Your local council or dump should have the facilities to store old paint. Give them a call and find out.
Swimming pool water
Swimming pool water contains all sorts of chemicals and elements like chlorine, salt, acid, body oils, sunscreen residues and potentially harmful bacteria. Washing this down your stormwater drains can lead these elements making their way into our water systems. In some states you even get fined for doing this (South Australia will fine you $300 for doing this!)
It’s better to put pool backwash or overflow into a sewerage drainage point or garden area where salt resistant plants are growing.
We all want to enjoy our waterways and oceans for many generations to come so take heed of our list of 5 items to never wash down your drains or sink, and think of the environment the next time you turn on the tap.