You flushed what down the toilet?

Campaign outlines do's and dont's of toilet flushing

Are you mistreating your toilet…and, in turn, your home and the environment?

Answer yes if you’re flushing such things as personal hygiene products, fats, oils, grease, pharmaceuticals and household hazardous waste.

Doing so, say the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) and The Clean Water Foundation (CWF), can result in costly repairs to your home due to clogged pipes, damage to the environment and to municipal infrastructure.

Left image: A mound of wipes pulled out of a sewage pumping station after a blockage was discovered.
Right image: A build-up of fats, oils and grease (FOG) in a pipe at a wastewater facility.

“Treating your sinks and toilets like trash cans can have major consequences,” says Amy Lane, Manager of Marketing and Communications, OCWA. “Can you imagine coming home to sewage backup in your basement because your pipes are clogged with grease, wipes or feminine hygiene products? This doesn’t have to happen. The I Don’t Flush campaign makes it clear how easy it is to protect your pipes and avoid costly repairs and environmental damage.”

Barrie and Bradford have joined the agencies in the I Don’t Flush campaign raising awareness of the consequences of flushing anything more than human waste and toilet paper.

The following are some of the damages that can be caused:

Pharmaceuticals
Throwing pharmaceuticals in the garbage or down the drain contributes to the contamination of our environment, including water sources and soil. Examples: Expired pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medications, and vitamins

Personal Hygiene products
Flushing personal hygiene products, even items labelled as flushable, can clog pipes and lead to sewer backups, flooded basements and raw sewage discharge into our lakes and rivers. Examples: wipes, feminine hygiene products, dental floss and cotton swabs

Fats, Oils and Grease
When fats, oils and grease (FOG) are put down the drain they cool and form blockages, leading to basement flooding and sewage overflows onto streets and surrounding areas. These clogs can also damage your local wastewater facility, and your water rates may go up to cover costly repairs. According to the Municipal Enforcement Sewer Use Group, Canadian municipalities spend more than $250 million a year removing garbage from sewer systems. Examples: Meat, fats, cooking oils, dairy products (butter, yogurt, etc.), salad dressings and gravies

Household Hazardous Waste
Household Hazardous Waste can become dangerous when poured down drains, potentially entering source waters and harming underwater vegetation and aquatic life. Examples: Cleaning, gardening and automobile care products.