Earthworms’ Castings


With Jean Ponzi

Not Flushable!

Why can a product make a false label claim that causes real damage?

Flushable as a claim on cleaning wipes is one of the worst around today. But we want that convenience of flushing “away.” So we buy the product, and its load of false claim.

Our Metropolitan Sewer District – and wastewater utilities everywhere – are dealing with the crappy effects of this bum information as they have to root out giant globs of supposedly flushable product from the systems we rely on to purify water, upstream and downstream from us. 

This is bad. But it’s worse when the clog in YOUR home’s sewer pipe backs up merde into personal spaces. Either way, it’s a problem we have.

And one we can ALL plunge in and eliminate!

MSD made a terrific ad, Wipes Clog Pipes, that converted me to a Flush TP Only Advocate. You want to look this up online. The piece brilliantly (OK, by the humor standards of a 5th grade boy, which I blush to admit are the same as mine) portrays the drama when a guy on the throne runs out of bathroom tissue and reaches for a wipe. 

I told MSD they should submit this video for awards. It’s worth at least a Number 2.

Seriously, MSD says the majority of sewer backups into homes or buildings are not caused by a failure of the public sewer system, but rather an issue with the private plumbing system. 

They’re working for us down there! They know.

I am not really a user of wipes. To me, they are just one more thing we are urged to buy and ditch. I couldn’t get ‘em anyway, in the hoarding rush to buy up COVID-19 cleaning supplies. I tried to DIY some wipes, by cutting a roll of paper towel in thirds and soaking these segments in watered-down bleach. It worked OK the first few times I pulled from the center of the roll, then my “sheets” turned to wads. I still swab with a wad every now and then, but mostly I just wash stuff as needed.

I have learned from MSD Project Clear! I now know I shouldn’t be flushing Kleenex either, or the moldy last of a jar of Paul Newman Garlic Alfredo that became a refrigerator science experiment. 

Nixing the flush of diapers, sanitary pads, paper towels, kitty litter or other kinds of hygiene stuff was not an issue in my home. But is this news to you? Take heed! Take action! 

Toilets are not trash cans.

So what about those flushable label claims? 

In 2019, Friends of the Earth in Canada filed a request with their county’s Competition Bureau to investigate the flushable claim. FOE cited a study by Ryerson University that tested 23 wipes labelled as flushable. Researchers found that NONE performed as labelled: two of the tested products partially disintegrated in drains, 21 didn’t break down at all. Some took six flushes just to get through a toilet. 

Canadian officials are considering a fine of $10 million for every product sold under a bogus claim of flushability, ranging from wipes to toilet-brush pads to doggie-do bags.

What could MSD do with a flood of such legal-damage bucks? Think of the investment in plant-based Green Infrastructure strategies to manage stormwater… Hey, a girl can dream!

The problem is a total official void of an American Standard for what flushable means. The international association of water utilities and professionals have one standard – but another comes from poopy-heads who own the brands. 

Companies play on our urge for convenience, pushing products that we wrongly believe will break down once they are flushed.

The Ryerson study ultimately tested 101 different products. The only ones that disintegrated after being flushed were varieties of toilet paper. But, researchers noted, these products aren’t even labelled as flushable.

U.S. regulators squat on the sidelines. What if our agencies stood up for truth-in-labeling from brands? Golly, what if an ask like this pissed off a corporation? Lobbying behemoths like Proctor & Gamble, Kimberly-Clarke or Unilever could drop a log on Feds’ heads. Eeeeuw, Ucky!

We’d probably still all buy their stuff, and we might just use it correctly. 

What could we use to dispose of wipes? While we can’t recycle our plastic bags, hmmm… 

Join Jean Ponzi for conversations-in-Green, podcasting weekly (or so) from KDHX St. Louis Independent Media. And go with the facts on this issue from www.msdProjectClear.org.