sunday morning coffee | 05.18.2014

Sunday Morning Coffee is the place where I sit down with a big cup o' joe and recap the past week's events - from my favourite posts of the week, to the happenings here at t.o. & fro, and even share my "Eco-Tip of the Week" to encourage you to live a more responsible and sustainable lifestyle. So please, grab your Sunday morning poison and join me...

This week I,

To be more responsible,
eco-tip 16. washing your car

Spring means dirty cars, and nice enough weather to get outside and wash them! But, when washing your vehicle, it is important to be aware of what products you are using and where the water is going.

One question to ask yourself is what kind of sewer systems does your city have? In the majority of cities, the storm sewer system (those square grates on the side of the road) takes the rainwater and melted snow and releases it, untreated, into local streams, rivers and lakes. So that means any water being used on your driveway to wash your car, is also flowing into the storm sewer system. The problem with that is the water that comes from washing your car often contains dirt, oil, heavy metals, hazardous chemicals, soap and more. And when it goes down the storm sewer system, it is all entering your local streams, rivers and lakes, harming aquatic habitat. Gross.

To avoid this, consider these options for washing your car:
  • Use commercial car wash facilities, where a different set of practices is followed to treat the dirty water.
  • Wash your car in a location where water won't flow into the storm sewer system, such as your front lawn, where the water will be absorbed by the soil.
  • Use a pail, washcloth and small amount of soap and water. When you're done with the dirty water, dump it down a laundry sink or toilet so that it enters the sanitary sewer system for further water treatment.

Here are some extra tips to help you stay green when washing your car:
  • Don't use soap! Instead, choose environmentally-friendly water-based detergents that are phosphate free. 
  • Is there rain in the forecast? If yes, then rethink your wash! Good ol' Mother Nature will also help save you time and money.
  • Are you in a drought? Do everyone a favour and don't wash your car!
  • Look for the yellow fish! Many cities paint a yellow fish beside all storm sewers to remind you that what you put down the sewer will harm the fish.

Have a good week!

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