Help Keep “Stinky Stuff” from Having Lasting Impact on Our Environment

You could say our green segment on WFAA this month was kind of stinky. That’s because Water Expert Denise Hickey and Horticulturalist Patrick Dickinson shared about the stuff around our homes that stinks, and how it impacts our environment, specifically our lakes and water quality. From the kitchen drain to your lawn and landscape outside, read on for ways to keep that “stink” from sticking around.

Kitchen Drains – What NOT to put down the drain
Cooking Grease, oils, or fats – Dispose of these items by keeping an empty can or jar in your kitchen. After the fats, oil or grease have cooled, pour into the can or jar. When that’s full, throw it away in your outdoor trashcan.

Cleaning Products – Even though most cleaning products are liquid, they should never be poured down the drain because they contain harmful chemicals. Many contain phosphates, antibacterial agents, and other compounds that are not removed at the wastewater treatment plant and can be hazardous to the ecosystem.

Paint – Similar to cleaning products, paint should never be poured down the drain even though it’s a liquid. It has the potential to pollute the environment and cause your drain to clog. Many towns have hazardous waste collection facilities where you can safely dispose of your old or unused paint.

Toilets – Only Flush Pee, Poo, and Toilet Paper
Flushable wipes and/or feminine hygiene products – Never use our toilet as a trash can. There are only 3 Ps that should be flushed down our toilets: Pee, Poo, and Toilet Paper. While wipes and other products are labeled ‘flushable’ or ‘disposable’, they don’t break down when flushed which creates the potential for a sewer clog or overflow. These products belong in the trash, not the toilet.

Kitty litter – Kitty already has her own toilet called a litter box and their litter should not get flushed.

Band-aids – Whether the band-aids are made from plastic, which are not biodegradable, or from cloth, they should go in the trash and not flushed.

Dental Floss and Human Hair – Both of these items can form balls that cause clogs in sewer systems.

Medications and Drugs – It’s important to dispose of your pills and other medications through your local pharmacy, or regularly organized drug take-back programs.

You can find more information on ways to “Defend Your Drains” at

Lawns and Landscapes
Fertilizer – Think of fertilizer like multi-vitamins. We take our vitamins and our bodies absorb what we need and the rest is lost. It’s the same for your lawn, landscape and plants. They absorb what they need, and the rest leaches out or off our soil and into the storm drain. That’s also your money going down that drain. Only feed your lawn what it needs by regularly testing the soil.

Weed and Ant Broadcast Treatments – Only treat the area containing weeds and ants. Treatments that say you must put it on your entire lawn or landscape causes any unused chemicals to run off your landscape and into our storm drains. Chemicals like these are found in our waterways where they can increase algae growth and, in some cases, are toxic to the wildlife in and around our lakes. And remember, our lakes are our drinking source.

Landscape Clippings – Do not blow landscape clippings into the street! Those end up in our storm drains and cause serious sediment problems within our lakes. Storm drains are not trashcans.

Pet waste – It’s important to pick it up and dispose of pet waste in trashcans or by flushing (waste only – no litter or bags). Pet waste is not a good fertilizer, and leaving it to run off into our storm drains impacts our water systems.

For more information go to WaterUniversity.Tamu.Edu and www.WaterMyYard.Org, or watch the full segment below.