water treatment facility

How popular cleaning products impact our wastewater

You’ve heard us say it a million times. Pee, paper, poo; they’re the only things that should be going in our waterways. Simple right? However, when you begin to really think about it, we’re sure alarm bells start ringing because it isn’t as easy as that. What other items go into your drains alongside your water? We’re not claiming that sticking to the 3 P’s is simple, but it’s a goal we should all be continuously working towards. One of the biggest challenges to overcome is avoiding cleaning products in our water systems.

Grab a bucket, fill it with water, add a cleaner. Scrub away at the floors and then tip the wastewater down the drain. It’s a natural action and many cleaners require being mixed with water, but this immediately takes away from our 3 P’s. Don’t worry, you haven’t failed, but it’s important to know what happens next so that you understand the impact of cleaning products in our water. So, where does it go? Well, ultimately it can end up in a number of places, but all wastewater goes through the same process. 

The journey of cleaning products in our water 

All the wastewater that you put in your drain goes through a rigorous process so that all harmful toxins are removed. UK wastewater is sent back into the ocean, so well treated, that it actually improves the quality of water in the ocean. But we still see our oceans filled with plastic products. Largely, this is down to litter, flooding carrying debris, and in some cases, where pipes have burst from the pressure of a blockage. It’s why the 3P’s are so important, not just for protecting waterways but our wildlife too. 

So, if cleaning products aren’t directly harmful to our natural water resources, why must we do our best to remove them from our drains? It’s because treating a pint of wastewater is 3 times more impactful than supplying it in the first place.  

Ultimately, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. We can’t put our wastewater directly into the ocean because we’ll drastically harm wildlife, but at the same time, treating it isn’t exactly eco-friendly. The lesser of two evils is to treat our water, but that doesn’t mean we should pour down the drains freely. We can still minimise this impact by being mindful about our wastewater. 

The issue with wastewater 

All drains lead to one of the many treatment facilities in the country. Here they go through multiple treatment stages, each one removing more impurities. As Greenredeem members, we know you’re not putting things like floss and cotton buds in your drains, but millions across the country still do. Every impurity requires energy to remove it, which in turn, increases emissions. 

Reducing your consumption of water where possible is something we talk about a lot, but now, we’re going to look at reducing our wastewater as well. Ultimately, the goal is to use less of this precious resource and to waste none.  

How can we produce less wastewater? 

Cleaning is one of the key areas in our lives where we use water. Whether it’s rinsing dishes, scrubbing floors, or removing all the mud from your car. We use a lot of it and because of that, we create more wastewater. 

Keep an eye out for our next water blog where we’ll be discussing all our favourite tips and tricks for using less water while cleaning; even how to create your own cleaners so you can save money! But first, we want you to take the time to consider how much water you waste. 

Now that you know the carbon equivalent of your wastewater is 3 times more impactful than when it’s poured from your tap, we want you to acknowledge when you’re wasting. Are there any areas you can immediately cut down on? How about that glass of water you took up to bed last night? Let’s start with being more aware of our actions before we start making any dramatic changes. We’ll be back with some wastewater reduction tips soon.

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