Friday, September 09, 2016

The Not-So-Royal Flush

The Not-So-Royal Flush

Someone asked me the other day whether or not I flush my toilet.

For a split second, my brain did a kind of Tilt-A-Whirl, and before I knew it I blurted out, "Huh?"

I mean, who doesn't flush their toilet? It's no place to make soup or stew, ya know!

So, my friend went on to say how we could all be saving billions of gallons of water by not flushing our toilets every time we use them. The rule of thumb is that if you pee in a toilet, you needn't flush it. If you drop a brown trout in the pool, then, yes, flush away. There's even a little ditty: "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."

Now, I'm all for conservation, and I have tremendous respect for the environment. Still, I am not one to let anything be "mellow yellow" in my toilet. I am not a collector of pee. So, I flush — sometimes twice — and I thank God that we have ample supplies of water here in Canada.

All this got me thinking about toilets, and the perils of said commode.

For example, did you know that flushing the toilet with the lid up may be spewing bacteria all over your bathroom. You know that toothbrush you use, the one sitting on the counter next to the toilet? Yes, that apparently gets an ample dose of bacteria from the toilet if you flush with the lid up. Gross? Absolutely. But who knew?

Then there are items that people regularly flush down the toilet that may be extremely harmful as a significant risk to plumbing problems as well as environmental pollution.

Check out these items that must never be flushed:

  • Bathroom Wipes — Those moist towelettes that people use are a no-no. Apparently, most are not biodegradable.
  • Condoms — Latex condoms never die. They mush together in a giant ball and block sewers.
  • Cotton Balls & Swabs — Uh uh ... most people think these break down into bits of nothing. The truth is they don't break down at all and clog your plumbing.
  • Prescription Medication — Sure, you think this is a safe way to get rid of unwanted or unneeded pills. What you don't see is that these drugs contaminate groundwater supplies, and some poor deer ends up drinking a mixture of Viagra and Valium.
  • Your Drug Stash — If the police are breaking down your front door during a drug raid, it is customary to flush the "evidence" down the toilet. All well and good, you may think, but heck, your hash pipe probably won't make it all the way down. Worse still, the neighbourhood raccoons will be chillin' by your backdoor for weeks.
  • Cigarette Butts – Oh, good grief ... quit smoking in the bathroom.
  • Band-Aids – Most band-aids are made from non-biodegradable plastic and an environmental no-no.
  • Dental Floss — Looks like string, but it's really not biodegradable. Fishermen have reported catching fish with dental floss caught in the fish's gills or wrapped around its tail.
  • Leftovers — Never flush last night's meatloaf down the toilet. Make a nice meatloaf sandwich instead. The thing is that any grease or oil that you flush will congeal in your pipes, and you'll need to find yourself a decent drain cleaner.
  • Disposable Diapers — You should know better. These go in the trash. Yes, they stink to high heaven, but whose fault is that?
  • Tampons, Sanitary Napkins — There's a longstanding misconception that somehow, because these things are cotton-ish, they are kosher for flushin'. Uh-uh, not so. The resiliency of these items to remain intact will clog up drains and screw up the wastewater treatment systems and, thereafter, the environment.
  • Goldfish — Is the toilet really a decent final resting place for any once-living thing? Don't be so heartless.
  • The Nerd Next Door — No swirlies, please. Sure the kid can be an ass, but you don't have to be one too.
Now, some conservationists and septic tank owners will tell you that you shouldn't even flush toilet paper. Toilet paper tends to degrade slowly, so septic tank owners often find waste backing up from their tanks. Never a pleasant experience. As for the environment, well, flushing toilet paper into a sewage system creates all kinds of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, which is bad, but sending it to a landfill creates methane, which is twenty times worse than carbon monoxide. So, if you're on a city sewage system, flush it.

Finally, it's never a good idea to avoid the toilet completely. In most countries, peeing or defecating on a city street or even in the deepest part of a woodland forest is illegal. Apparently, that privilege is reserved for the pet population or the wildlife. And it's never a good idea to "hold it" — seriously, never a good idea. Just think about what you're "holding," and that should be enough to send you to even the most despicable gas-station washroom.




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