Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a consistently high demand for sanitary items, like toilet paper, wipes, etc. As frequent use of many different cleaning materials continues, for very necessary reasons, we need to remember that only true toilet paper should go in the toilet. Wipes, even if they say flushable, paper towels, tissues, and other materials can cause blockages or breaks in your own home and in city/county wastewater treatment systems. At the end of the day, this can add high repair costs to already strapped budgets and cause spills into local waterways, like Phillippi Creek.

Wipes may also be a source of microplastics (small pieces of plastic) to the environment. Studies have found polyester (plastic) type materials in some brands of wipes labeled as “flushable” or “biodegradable”. Both the City of Sarasota and Sarasota County have water reuse programs for treated wastewater. Microplastics from “flushable” wipes that cannot be removed by the treatment system could end up on lawns and golf courses, run off into stormwater sewers, and find their way into our creeks and bays.

There are so many stresses already happening during this time. Hopefully, unnecessary septic or sewer expenses don’t have to be one of them. Plus, reducing spills and other environmental harm will also help us all save money down the line.

Thank you to all of those who are being vigilant about washing, sanitizing, and following best practices for hygiene. When it comes to wipes, just remember that little saying, “When in doubt, throw it out”.