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The unintended consequences of pouring chemicals down the drain

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The unintended consequences of pouring chemicals down the drain

Chemicals that we dispose of through our plumbing are ending up in your food

As media coverage and general public awareness of the planet’s state of emergency becomes more widespread, many have begun to wake up to the drastic impact that climate change is having on our environment.

A growing number of people realise that, now more than ever, it is crucial that we each individually make those small changes that can help us as a species become more sustainable. - whether that is consuming less meat, driving an electric car, or simply adjusting our shopping habits.

Some of these new habits have become more popularised than others. However, there are some other simple changes to your lifestyle and daily routine that could make a big difference.

Why shouldn’t you put chemicals down the drain?

Have you ever thought about how what you are putting down the drain could be impacting our planet? Not many people do, because it seems like such an innocuous matter. After all, the drain is where liquid waste products should go, right? And whatever happens to it after that is not our problem. The truth, however, is slightly more complicated, and decidedly less convenient.

Did you know that many of the chemicals that we pour down the drain pass through our water’s filtration systems? As a result, many of these substances often end-up back in our surface and groundwater, which then runs into the oceans and is consumed by marine life, or is used to water our crops, and ultimately ends up on our plates.

As these compounds, such as phosphates, have a destructive effect on the ecosystems of our rivers, lakes, streams, and other water sources, water is increasingly becoming unsafe for consumption by all living creatures, including us.

In China, the water supply has become so contaminated by the dumping of toxic and industrial waste that pollution-induced algae blooms have caused the surface of China’s lakes to turn the water bright green. However, greater problems can be seen below surface, with 90% of groundwater in China’s cities now contaminated, linking to high cases of liver, stomach and oesophageal cancer.

How do these toxic chemicals enter water waste?

With all pipes attached to a waterway system, anything that is washed down the drains via our sinks, toilets or washing machines should travel into our wastewater treatment plants.

Shockingly, however, 39 million tonnes of raw, untreated sewage flows into the Thames every year, in 21st century London (although you could be forgiven for thinking that this was describing the Victorian era). And this is just one of the many hundreds of rivers in the UK.  The true national total hardly bears thinking about.

Additionally, with most of our water systems ironically being reliant on old Victorian pipes, these chemicals can often seep directly into our soil through leaks in these outdated pipes. With just under 3 billion litres of water lost to leaks everyday across England and Wales, an equivalent of 1,180 Olympic swimming pools is going straight into the environment. The worst offender, Thames Water, loses around a staggering 179 litres per property each day as a result of broken pipes, meaning that the value of the Thames’ annual 39 million litres of raw sewage water pollution is likely to be much larger.

How are household cleaners damaging the environment?

While household cleaners are not usually thought of as pollutants and instead seen as helpful aids to tackle tough cleaning jobs within our homes, this is not the full picture.

Many common cleaning products contain hazardous and lethal chemicals that are large contributors to water pollution, including bleach, ammonia, nitrogen, and phosphates – with bleach itself having many chemical makeups that are banned across Europe for its corrosive and toxic effects. With a large number of countries taking action to “impeach the bleach”, many are left wondering why the UK government is yet to recognise the extensive damage that these compounds are likely causing to the environment and to people.

With traditional cleaning agents containing dangerous water contaminants in large quantities, pollution in our waters is becoming a widespread problem that is detrimental to marine life and jeopardising our health. With less than 1% of the Earth’s freshwater actually accessible and safe to drink, this will only decrease as our waterways continue to be polluted.

Why chefs clean sustainably 

Calum Richardson, Chef Director at The Bay Fish & Chips restaurant and Delphis Eco ambassador, has woven sustainable practices throughout his business and has always been mindful of the fish he has sourced. However, he later became concerned about the knock-on effects of the products that went down the drain.

“If you use bleach, for example, and it leaves a smell, that smell is a volatile organic compound which transfers directly to what you’re doing on the surface. Do you want to serve people food that has chemicals in it?” 

As a result, Calum became conscious of the cleaning products he was using in his kitchen, realising that the household cleaning brands he was using contained toxic compounds that once washed down toilets, sinks and dishwashers became a severe problem – especially when they travelled up the food chain.

After discovering these long-term effects, Calum began using Delphis Eco and hasn’t looked back. As a perfect green alternative, Delphis Eco is derived from renewable plant-based ingredients – meaning our eco cleaning products are readily biodegradable and never contain harmful toxins.

What cleaning products are safe for our rivers and oceans?

Here at Delphis Eco, we produce professional award-winning, ecological cleaning products made from renewable, plant-based ingredients with an aim to significantly reduce both our plastic waste, water pollution and carbon emissions. With over a decade of experience in tackling tough dirt, all our products are formulated to be kind to the environment without compromising on quality or price.

Read more about our ingredients here.

Here are Calum’s top two favourite cleaning products that are safe for our waterways:

Delphis Eco Multi-Purpose Cleaner 700ml, £4

With Calum Richardson’s stamp of approval, the Multi-Purpose Cleaner is a fan favourite and the perfect all-in-one cleaner to scrub out stubborn marks and any dirt and grease. Working brilliantly throughout the home, our product leaves everything clean and shiny – without impacting our waterways.

 

Delphis Eco Drain Cleaner and Maintainer (tube of 10), £10

Need to tackle a tough drain blockage? Look no further than Delphis Eco Drain Cleaner and Maintainer. Our powerful enzyme treatment is specially created to eat away at food, grease, and organic waste to eliminate blockages and nasty smells. With its natural ingredients, our product is perfect for putting down the drain.

 

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