Don't flush trash
By only flushing toilet paper, you can protect your home, the sewer system, and the environment. Use a trash can instead of the toilet to dispose of used wipes, tissues, hygiene products and other items that don’t break down in water like toilet paper.
Even if the label says “flushable”, wipes and other trash can build up in the sewer system and cause overflows that might damage property, hurt the environment, or make people sick.
Last year, King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division spent over $150,000 just to take the wipes, tampons, and other trash that came into our treatment plants to a landfill. That’s enough trash to fill two semi-trucks every week! All this trash also increases the cost for system operation and maintenance, which trickles down to you.
Putting the wrong things down sinks and toilets might also cause expensive plumbing problems in your home or business.
This video from Minnesota Pollution Control Agency demonstrates how toilet paper breaks down in water, but wipes don’t. Check it out:
Are you on a septic system? Think before you flush...
Info for those on septic systems: Flushing trash can still get you into trouble. Your household pipes and septic tanks are only designed to handle toilet paper.
Trap your grease
- Scrape out greasy bowls, pots, and pans before washing.
- Keep fatty foods and meats out of the garbage disposal, and put cooled, solidified grease in the trash.
What happens when grease is washed down the drain?
When grease is washed down the drain, it sticks to the inside of sewer pipes (both on your property and in the streets). Over time, it builds up and can block an entire pipe.
Garbage disposals do not keep grease out of the pipes, they only shred it into smaller pieces. Commercial additives, including detergents that claim to dissolve grease, may cause problems further down the pipes.
The results of a grease-blocked sewer pipe can be:
- Sewage overflows in your home or your neighbor's home
- Expensive and unpleasant cleanup that often must be paid for by the property owner. The average cleanup cost is about $3,000 which does not include replacing carpets and repairing walls.
- Possible contact with disease-causing organisms
- An increase in operation and maintenance costs by the local sewer district and King County's regional treatment system, which causes higher sewer bills for customers.
Visit King County Solid Waste's What do I do with...? website for information about safely disposing of fats, oils, and grease.
Don't flush medications or chemicals.
Don’t put unwanted medications down the toilet or sink. Worried about keeping unwanted medications away from kids or pets? Many pharmacies across King County now take back expired or unwanted medications for safe disposal.
Do you have paint, pesticides and other household chemicals you no longer need or want? King County’s Wastemobile and Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Sites are a much safer alternative to putting these things down the drain or in the trash.