Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday's 3Rs -- Keeping the FOGG out of the drain

Photo by Shari Weinsheimer

I often write about toxins in the landfills, but there are some common household products that may not be labeled as HHW (Hazardous Household Waste), but are definitely a threat to the drain and sewer systems.

When FOGG (Fat, Oil, Grease, Grit) ends up going down the drain, the potential for problems, for both you and the wastewater treatment system, are pretty significant.

Oil coats pipes, making it easier for grit to fill in the nooks and crannies, eventually leading to clogs that can result in raw sewage backing up into your home, onto to streets, or into streams and lakes. Yuck.

Flushing 'unflushables' creates a whole other set of problems.

So, this Friday's 3Rs is really not focused on reducing, recycling, or reusing ... but it is about proper disposal, which is vitally important. As I researched this subject, I discovered how much I didn't know and discovered many environmenal 'sins' I've committed.

"Forgive me, father, I have sinned ..."

Here is a list of things you need to keep out of the wastewater stream, according to the website

FATS -- throw in the trash

  • Raw meats and poultry
  • butter
  • cheese
  • peanut butter
  • pan drippings from cooked meat
  • Salad oil
  • used cooking oil
  • motor oil
Put these back in their original containers and drop them off at a waste recycling center or auto shop (for motor oil). If you can't find a drop off location for the salad oil or cooking oil, just throw the container in the trash.
GREASE -- put in sealed cans/containers and throw it away
  • Bacon grease
  • melted fat from meat and poultry
  • mayonnaise
  • gravy
  • salad dressing GRIT
    • Egg shells
    • coffee grounds
    • sand (rinsed from shoes or towels)
    • kitty litter
    • disposable diapers
    • cotton swabs
    • tissue
    • dental floss
    Grit can damage seals in the water treatment plants. This is just one reason to keep grit out of the sewers by tossing these things in the trash. Better yet, switch from disposable diapers to cloth diapers (problem solved), use hankies or HankyBooks instead of Kleenex and spread your coffee grounds around your flowering bushes or mix them into your compost. I personally cannot imagine flushing any of the above, but I have rinsed off my kids' and my own sandy feet in the shower. It's best to do that with an outside hose onto the grass.

    Bottom line, sometimes you just have to throw things out, even if it goes against everything in you. Clogged drains, sewage backups and damaged water treatment plants are a hefty, and unsanitary, price to pay for ignoring this advice!

    Caring for the environment,


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