This blog was written for Ingenious Probiotics.

Our waterways aren’t always the first thing on our minds. We don’t think about them when we’re flushing the toilet or when we’re pouring something down the kitchen sink. And we especially pay no attention to rinsing that microfibre towel that you just used to clean up a grimy mess. We are all guilty of it and it’s our responsibility to firstly admit it and take small but meaningful strides towards a better, cleaner world. 

It’s very easy to think that flushing a dangerous chemical like bleach down the toilet is okay, and that’s reinforced by decades of advertising, promoting the practice. There are 27.8 million households in the UK, all flushing bleach down their toilets and into the waterways, without a single thought of what it could be doing to our aquatic life. Let’s assume that every household uses a litre of bleach a week to clean their toilets. Thats a whopping 27.8 MILLION litres of bleach, flushed down the toilet, in just one week. Now think about everything else that we pour down the sink or flush down the loo. So you can see with very simple steps and personal ownership, we can make a very large step to protecting our waterways, for ourselves, our future generations and all the living beings that we share our planet with. 

What are hazardous chemicals?

First things first, let’s acquire some definitions so that we all know what is hazardous to our water. From a corporate perspective, every industry that involves manufacturing has waste, and a large portion of that waste is hazardous to our waterways in some way. While companies are responsible for safely disposing of or recycling their waste, some still ends up in our oceans. However, the 66.8 million people in the UK are all small but daily contributors. Pesticides, weed killers, mould cleaners, car shampoos, oils and even soap are some of the very common household chemicals that get washed from our homes and into the water system. 

What happens when we use hazardous chemicals? 

Since the pandemic, we have become a little paranoid about germs in our homes, so we stocked up on hand sanitisers, antibacterial sprays and other “virus killers” to keep our homes and families safe. We spray these antibacterial cleaners all over our kitchens, door handles and desks, often either with a single use paper towel or a microfibre towel. We then rinse those microfibre towels in the sink or toss them in the laundry. What about that bottle of old cleaner that might have flushed down the toilet because it was out of date? Those chemicals haven’t magically disappeared; they have left your house, by sink, washing machine or toilet, and end up in places where wildlife can have a sip. 

But it’s not just our waterways that dangerous household cleaners impact; it’s us too. Too much of anything is a bad thing, but too much antibacterial cleaners can create antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which is one of the top ten threats to global health, and yes, that is as scary as it sounds. Household chemicals can also cause respiratory irritations and can worsen asthma symptoms and allergies. Not to mention how dangerous all of this is for our pets! We have very complex immune systems that handle massive amounts of abuse, but many of our furry friends don’t. Think about their tiny lungs before you mop the floor with bleach… 

So what can I do as an individual? 

 It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the weight of the world’s pollution resting on your shoulders, and it shouldn’t. Sometimes you need to use a hazardous chemical, and it’s important not to beat yourself up about it, but ease your mind by knowing you make all these little steps to help and do your part. 

Don’t buy it  – Exactly this. Don’t buy it and you won’t use it. Spend a little time Googling what is safe and not safe and add these safer products to your shopping list. Changing your individual habits is the first step. 

Think before you sink! – Before you flush something down the drain, or toilet, think about whether you should be putting it down there. 

Switch to probiotic cleaning products – Probiotic cleaners have bacteria that restore a healthy microflora balance to the environment, so they are actually really good to use! They are eco-friendly, biodegradable, and cause no ecological damage. 

We do not live in a perfect world, we know that. The intention behind this article is to get more people aware of their chemical use, and try our best to keep us and our waterways healthy. Every little bit that we do helps; so even if you just swap your usual cleaners for something that can continue working long after you have, you’ve done what you can to help.