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Don't pour it down the drain!

Lots of times you may just pour items down your sink drain without even thinking about it.   Unfortunately, this can cause health hazards and it's bad for the environment.  

Says Melissa Breyer from Care2:  "An increasingly common cause of overflows is sewer pipes blocked by grease -- this results in raw sewage overflowing in your home or your neighbor’s home; an expensive and unpleasant cleanup that often must be paid for by you, the homeowner; raw sewage overflowing into parks, yards, and streets; potential contact with disease-causing organisms; and an increase in operation and maintenance costs for local sewer departments, which causes higher sewer bills for customers."

So, what shouldn't you pour down your drain?  Here's a list of common items that you should dispose of in other ways:

  • Dairy products
  • Sauce
  • Baking goods
  • Food scraps
  • Butter and margarine
  • Shortening
  • Cooking oil
  • Lard
  • Meat fats
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Paper towels
  • Produce stickers
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grinds

Even if you have a garbage disposal, you should not put grease down the drain. 

Flushing things like medication down the toilet is also a no-no.  In a 2002 study, the U.S. Geological Survey analyzed water samples from 139 streams in 30 states.   Wastewater organic-chemicals was found in 80% of those streams.  This was due to pharmaceuticals and personal care products being flushed down the toilet.

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ETA:  Disposing of medication

If your city doesn't have a drug take-back or collection program, http://whitehousedrugpolicy.gov recommends the following to dispose of drugs (in lieu of flushing, as that can cause problems with our water supply) -- 

1. Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers.
2. Mix drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.
3. Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty margarine tub, or into a sealable bag.
4. Conceal or remove any personal information, including Rx number, on the empty containers by covering it with black permanent marker or duct tape, or by scratching it off.
5. Place the sealed container with the mixture, and the empty drug containers, in the trash.