It may seem a little strange but the washroom has always been my favourite room of the home. It can be a great solo hangout spot and I always leave feeling better than when I entered.
But of course, in order to enjoy a washroom, the toilets should probably be working.
Here’s the deal: there has been a rise in toilet floodings in our UHN hospitals and rehab centres. As the pandemic persists, more and more wipes, PPE, and paper towels are being used, which is fine. Unfortunately, more and more are being flushed, which is not fine.
The funny thing about “flushable” wipes is that they’re not actually flushable! Wipes (both disinfectant and personal care) are made up of textiles that do not break down like toilet paper (TP) does. Not to mention that the chemicals in wipes kill off the useful microorganisms that are necessary for treating sewage waste water.
The other top offenders are paper towels which, despite looking like TP, are too thick to flow through pipes. And don’t treat PPE like TP … those surgical masks and gloves may look small, but they can really gum things up!
There are many other items that too often end up being flushed away: menstrual products, pharmaceuticals, household hazardous waste, plastics, grease, and more. When these items clog sewage pipes, it causes flooding, interrupts the sewage waste treatment process, and contaminates our lakes and rivers. This is a huge waste of water, and reversing these issues is both difficult and costly. We have a previous blog post that gets into unflushables here.
And hey, I can understand that flushing can sometimes seem, come on let’s face it, very magical! It seems like the toilet can take care any problem, no matter how big!
But the bottom (haha…) line is this: there are only three things that should be flushed: a number one, a number two, and toilet paper. That’s it. Everything else belongs in the garbage, recycling, or compost (or hazardous waste in the case of medication). Not sure what belongs where? You can check out our blog post explaining UHN’s disposal protocol, as well as our new poster illustrating the proper disposal of PPE (made by me!).
An SBAR (Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation) went out to all-users at UHN detailing the situation, written by our very own Lisa Vanlint. It contains some useful recommendations for what you should do to address the increase in toilet floodings. Of course, the best thing you can do is follow the guidelines of what is flushable. I had the pleasure of designing a new poster that details these guidelines, now in a UHN washroom near you. If you have any questions or if you would like an additional poster, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also visit idontflush.ca for funny and informative lessons on all the do’s and don’ts about flushing. In partnership with several Ontario municipalities and clean water organizations, the I Don’t Flush campaign has done some great work promoting positive toilet action (and don’t we all love positive toilet action?).
Let’s keep our waterways safe, one flush at a time.