Water Sense

A Better Approach to a Clogged Drain?

By Laura Janson

It happens every so often. One of the drains in my house gets clogged. It is usually the drain in my shower stall or the drain in my bathroom sink. They tend to collect hair.

Being a health-conscious environmentalist, I try not to use harsh chemicals — you know — the ones that contain an irritant that can burn your skin or the inside of your nose? I’ve tried a drain snake, but that requires some elbow grease and sometimes I can’t seem to reach the clog. Why don’t I just use a drain sieve or filter on top of the drains? The bathroom sink is angled so that one will not lay flat. I did find one for the shower that’s easy to clean—stainless steel—and is fine enough to catch hair, but it doesn’t fit in the kids’ tub. What about an environmentally friendly drain cleaner? Good approach, but let’s think outside of the box.

An idea hit me when my brother showed me the filter in my dishwasher that catches large food particles and “foreign objects” like fancy plastic toothpicks. Who knew? Not me, but then I never read the entire manual.

Why not have the same gizmos, those traps they have in many dishwashers, in bathroom drains? Then I could just unscrew the cover on the drain, pull out the trap, remove the hair, put back the cover, and voila, an unclogged drain! It would just take a minute and it would be environmentally friendly.

Calling all faucet manufacturers or entrepreneurs. Find a way to incorporate a filter into every faucet’s design. Then everyone can clean their own drain filters. . . they just have to read the manual to know it’s there.

While you’re thinking about eco-friendly bathroom fixtures, check out all the water efficient appliances from the Water Sense program. Will you be giving your bathroom an eco-makeover?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Green Plumbers Combat Climate Change

Back in the day, when I thought about green plumbers, the famed video game character, an Italian plumber named Luigi, came to mind. But while his hat and suspenders may have been green in color, he fought fanged mushrooms and evil turtles, not inefficient water use and global climate change—and that, it turns out, is what real green plumbers do.

Though they lack super mushrooms inducing gigantism, flowery fireballs, and bouncing stars granting temporary invincibility, GreenPlumbers® have an impressive arsenal:

– They conduct water audits in homes, identifying how much water is used and how much can be saved.
– They replace water-guzzling, leaky toilets, wasteful faucets, and shabby irrigation equipment with high efficiency models.
– They install and maintain water efficient systems like rainwater catchment and greywater systems.

For all their hard work, GreenPlumbers® recently received a 2009 EPA Pacific Southwest Environmental Award.

In the Pacific Southwest, extracting, conveying, treating, distributing, and using water, and then collecting and treating wastewater uses a lot of energy. In California, for example, 20% of the State’s electricity use and 30% of their natural gas use is attributed to water use. EPA estimates 3% of national energy consumption– equivalent to approximately 56 billion kilowatt hours (kWh)–is used for drinking water and wastewater services. Assuming the average mix of energy sources in the country, this adds about 45 million tons of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere.

By reducing water use, green plumbers reduce the amount of water flowing through our inefficient water infrastructure to directly reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

My perception of plumbers has been transformed, thanks to these amazing, award-winning Green Plumbers. You can join me in finding certified GreenPlumbers® and learning about their national training and accreditation program at www.greenplumbersusa.com/.

About the author: Charlotte Ely spent two years jumping from office to office through the Environmental Intern Program. She landed in EPA’s Pacific Southwest Sustainable Water Infrastructure and Climate Change program in the fall of 2008, and plans to stay put for a while.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.