4A: Down the Drain Challenge, Brampton, Mansi Thind

Environment   Oct 17, 2018 by Mansi

This week I recorded how much water/waste went down my drain, and the results truly surprised me. I recorded my water usage for the past 4 days and calculated the average in order to get a more accurate result. Altogether, I found that my average water usage to be around 55.8 gallons of water per day. Mostly, my water usage came from the bathroom, showering, washing my hands, brushing my teeth and flossing (using a water pick), and washing my face. As I was doing this challenge I started thinking more about what kinds of waste was being produced from these daily activities. Whether it was toothpaste, face wash product, or shampoo and soap (along with the general dirt found on the body), I found that there was a lot of waste going down the drain with the water. 

When first assigned this challenge, my initial reaction was that the only waste that would be produced would be organic. I'll admit that, because of this, I was quite confused when it came to a "list" of things that would go down my drain, as I simply assumed it would only be water and organic matter. However, after doing this challenge, I've come to realize how many other things go down my sink along with the water. Every daily activity that I listed above had some sort of waste to go down with it, which really does concern me, because if I actually counted how much waste I produce every single day I think those results would be even more shocking. 

This thought then prompted me to the next phase of this activity - researching how wastewater is treated in Brampton. I was quite impressed by this process since it does seem detailed. First the water is screened and any solid material is removed. Any solid material missed in the initial screening sink to the bottom of the next phase while the water moves on. The water then undergoes an process in order to remove any phosphorous and microorganisms dissolve any remaining organic matter. The water is then clarified and dechlorinated and sent back to Lake Ontario

Although Brampton does have a detailed process when it comes to treating wastewater, no system is perfect, and I am sure that there must be a large amount of waste that ends up in our ocean from these treatment facilities. This waste can include microfibers that are in our clothes. I searched through my closet and found that a majority of my clothes are 100% cotton, although I assume this is not the case for many people. I acknowledge that I am a special case since I do have eczema and naturally sensitive skin, so I am usually aware of the types of materials my clothes are made of. However, while searching through my closet I did find that a few of my clothes are not 100% cotton, and are made out of a synthetic blend. This prompted me to do some research into what happens when the microfibers get put into the wash and I found that approximately 40% of these microfibers end up in our water. This causes a lot of harm not only to the water itself, but to the organisms who live in the water. When aquatic life ingest these microfibers it has the ability to make it up our food chain through the process of bio accumulation. This can result in a harmful amount of toxicity to enter the food chain and harm living creatures. This is truly a scary thought because it is hard to believe that by simply washing my clothes, I could be doing a lot more harm to the environment than simply wasting water.

Overall, I found this challenge very informative and look forward to discussing it on Thursday. 

-Mansi Thind, David Suzuki Secondary School

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3 Comment(s)

Oct 31, 2018

I was doing some research on how much gallons a person uses and surprisingly how much you use in four days is around half of how much an average person uses in a day!

Rachael Bell-Irving
Oct 22, 2018

You've made an excellent point that our personal circumstances have an influence on how we might approach different environmental issues. For some people, it's a part of the necessity to use more environmentally friendly products, while for others plastic or synthetics may be the norm. So how can we create a solution, or a culture, that promotes everyone doing their part in the best way they can, given their resources? 

Rian Hoyle
Oct 18, 2018

I'm starting the challenge this weekend, I wonder if our water usage will be similar.  I found your research about the microfibers very interesting, it is truly eye opening how much we as a society impact the environment.

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