To Flush or Not to Flush, That is the Question



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Green movements are growing and thriving across the country.  Active efforts to preserve the environment involve aggressive recycling, lowering thermostats, using low flow faucets, and using low energy light bulbs, to mention only a few.  Now is the time to step up and deal with an issue that remains problematic, an issue that has been hard to confront because people are traditionally reluctant to hold a public discussion on what goes down the toilet drain.

“Please Do Not Flush!”  You may have seen the signs in public restrooms.  The reasons behind them are:

·         Used personal care products clog up the plumbing and cost the establishment mucho bucks in repair bills

·         No one loves the icky experience of wading through a contaminated overflow.

·         It is extremely inconvenient to find a toilet out of order when you really need to go. 

These issues alone might direct your throwing arm to the wastebasket; however, there is more to the story.  Our current plumbing and sewage systems were designed only to handle human waste and toilet paper.  Everything else can combine with grease and root invasion to impede sewage flow through the system causing blockages, clogged sewage pumps and sewage backups.  Used sanitary products and other plastic items can escape   the waste stream and pollute fresh water, especially in the northeast, where storm sewers and sanitary sewers have a connected system.  Large storms can send the raw sewage through the storm drain outlet and into waterways and onto beaches.  In the
US, beach cleaning efforts by Beach Watch report an average of 14 tampon applicators per beach kilometer. 


Marine debris washed up on our beaches is a real danger to sea turtles, birds, and fish.  These coastal dwellers cannot tell the difference between trash and their natural prey, and so they swallow anything that resembles in color or shape what they normally eat.  When ingested, this non- organic debris may stay in their digestive tract, causing blockages, damage to organs, or a false sense of fullness that leads to malnutrition.  So you see, these items don’t just disappear with the whoosh of a toilet handle.

Here is a handy list to post in public, business or home bathrooms outlining items that should be placed in the trash, not flushed down the toilet or sink


•    Tampons
•    Tampon applicators
•    Mini and maxi pads.  
•    Band-aids and bandage wrappers
•    Personal care wipes
•    Condoms
•    Cotton balls
•    Q-tips
•    Dental floss and whitening strips
•    Hair
•    Kitty litter
•    Expired and unused medications

*Check with your local pharmacist for proper procedure for disposing of medications. 

Old habits may be hard to change but new habits are comforting when they involve taking positive action to preserve our dwindling natural resources
Check out   for new biodegradable personal disposal bags that make
discarding  sanitary items  easy, clean and discreet.


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