Use commercial car washes or wash on the grass
Commercial car washes clean and recycle the water they use. If you don't use a car wash, washing your car on the grass keeps soap and dirt from entering the storm drain and the Puget Sound.
Did you know? If you don't have an environmentally friendly car wash product, you can use a biodegradable soap or make your own cleaner.
Helpful hint: Want to reduce pollution and save water at the same time? Try washing vehicles with a waterless citrus-based cleaner to increase the time between car full washes.
Pick up pet waste
Pick up pet waste and throw it in the trash.
When it rains pet waste that is left on the ground will wash into storm drains carrying bacteria and nutrients to creeks, lakes, and the Puget Sound.
Did you know? There are 200 tons of pet waste deposited in the Puget Sound region every day, and water runoff flushes it into streams, rivers and eventually the Puget Sound.
Helpful hint: Grocery bags, produce bags, or newspapers bags can all be reused to pick up your pets waste.
Use a garbage disposal sparingly to minimize energy and water use
Garbage disposals connect to the sewer system and food waste will eventually get recycled through the wastewater treatment plants as biosolids soil amendment.
However, running a garbage disposal requires water and electricity, after the food goes down the drain even more water and electricity will be used to move the water and clean the food out and truck it to farms and forests.
Did you know? Food in the trash never gets recycled and creates more greenhouse gases at the landfill.
Helpful hint: When trying to recycle food waste, choose an option that is the most efficient, local, and uses the least energy:
- Compost at home
- Put food scraps in your green yard waste bins
- Use the garbage disposal
Put trash in the trash can
Put trash in the trash can, not the toilet.
What does "flushable" really mean? It means that it will fit down the toilet bowl, not that it is safe for sewers or will actually biodegrade in the sewer system. Sewer pipes and treatment plants were only designed to handle toilet paper so when it comes to flushing, the only trash allowed down the toilet should be toilet paper, which disintegrates.
Did you know? A semi truck full load of trash leaves each wastewater treatment plant in Seattle every week. This trash goes to the landfill.
Helpful hint Use the four "P's" to help people remember the only things that should be flushed: Pee, Poo, Puke and Paper (toilet paper, that is).
Prevent kitchen sink clogs
Use a garbage disposal sparingly; always put fats, oils, and grease into the garbage.
What about food waste, sinks and garbage disposals? Garbage disposals connect to the sewer system and food waste will be treated and recycled through the wastewater treatment plants as biosolids soil amendment. However, small particles of food can stick to sewer pipes and cause clogs and maintenance problems.
- Use an empty tin can or glass jar to store fats and grease- leave can on the counter or store in the freezer.
- Throw hardened grease in a garbage can or recycle at a biodiesel recycling facility when possible.
- Scrape plates, pots, pans before washing- makes dishwashing easier and keeps pipes clean.
- Use a drain screen in your kitchen (and in the bathroom for hair)- empty weekly into the garbage can.
- Clean drains monthly with baking soda and vinegar to keep pipes clean, or pour boiling water down drains
Did you know? Fats, oils, and grease are things that should never go down the drain. These things may be liquid to begin with (think bacon) but it will harden on the sides of pipes which will eventually cause blockages and can lead to expensive plumbing repairs.
Dispose of hazardous waste safely
Take hazardous waste to a disposal facility
Store household hazardous chemical products in spill proof containers and remember to dispose of them at a hazardous waste disposal facility.
Products with labels saying "danger" or "warning" cannot be poured down any drain or thrown in the garbage. Store these products safely away from children and pets and use a hazardous waste facility to get rid of them.
Helpful hint: If you wash your dishes by hand, you can save water by partially filling the sink to wash and rinse your dishes, instead of running the faucet.
Did you know? Dishwashers almost always use less water than washing by hand.
Reduce chemicals outside
Reduce fertilizers and pesticides: practice natural yard care.
Chemical fertilizers and pesticides can be easily washed off lawns and gardens into storm drains. The organic, living material in composts or natural yard care products can help the soil hold more water and nutrients for the plants, reducing the need for chemical products.
Helpful hint: Think twice before using pesticides. Identify the problem before you spray, and seek out alternatives.
Did you know? Only about 5% of the bugs in your yard are actually pests. Good bugs will help control pests naturally.
Walk, bike, bus, or carpool
Transportation exhaust and automotive parts pollute the air and pavement and eventually come to rest in sediments and water.
Helpful hint: Check out the Cascade Bicycle Club , which offers classes, bike rentals, route maps, and low-cost helmets.
Did you know? Forty percent of all car trips are made within two miles of home.
Keep cars maintained
Keep cars maintained; fix leaks and change brake pads.
Car parts, oils, and fluids deposit metals, chemicals and toxic particles on streets that run off into water bodies and contaminate Puget Sound.
Helpful hint: Never dump anything down a storm drain. Always recycle used oil, antifreeze and other fluids.
Did you know? Approximately 75% of all pollution in Puget Sound comes from stormwater runoff that starts in our neighborhoods, much of this comes from cars.
Choose natural products
Choose natural, simple products. Avoid fragrances, phosphorus and chemicals.
Wastewater treatment plants use natural processes to clean water - these processes cannot break down all chemicals.
Make your own cheap and effective cleaning products or choose products with the most natural and simple ingredients.
Helpful hint: Take unused chemicals to your nearest hazardous waste facility to properly dispose of them.
Did you know? You can use vinegar, baking soda, olive oil, borax, and liquid castile soap to make your own cleaning supplies.
Return medicines to a pharmacy or safely throw them in the trash
Wastewater treatment plants use natural processes to clean water--these processes cannot break down all chemicals. Prevent medicines from entering the water. King County has implemented the take back program in order to properly dispose of unused medicine.
Helpful hint: Safely store medicines in your home. Keep them out of reach in a medicine lock box.
Did you know? About 30% of prescription and over-the-counter medicines go unused, and too often linger in home medicine cabinets increasing risks of misuse or abuse.