No matter where you are in your home, inside or out, when you have something to dispose of, one of the first gut reactions is to send it down the drain.

What we put down the drain inside and outside our homes all take their toll on our environment. Studies show that nearly half of all above ground water sources are contaminated by human activity. What are the biggest polluters? What should you do instead?

What You Should Never Put Down The Drain

1. Grease

You’re cooking a meal. The grease accumulates. What to do? Send it down the drain, right? Stop! Grease not only backs up your drains, it can also clog the entire system within your neighborhood. If you’ve ever put grease in a jar and left it sit, you know what happens. It hardens and sticks to its surrounding area. The same happens to your pipes. As it moves through your pipes, it slowly gets thicker and harder, attaching itself to the inside of your pipes. That may occur in yours, or it may make it out into the neighborhood. Either way, the eventual impact to your system can be devastating. Find an old jar or coffee can and store grease in there instead.

2. Motor Oil

You’re still one of the ones who likes getting dirty in your garage. An oil change? Why bring it in when you can do it yourself. Yet the problem lies in what to do with it after you’ve changed it. Whatever you do, don’t pour used motor oil into the storm drain. Storm drains head directly into local waterways, and just one gallon of motor oil can contaminate a million gallons of water. If you use a professional oil changing business, they recycle their used motor oil. If you do it yourself, find a place that will take it back and recycle. It.

3. Pet Waste

Heading out for a walk sounds like the perfect thing to do on a warm spring day. If you have a dog, bring him along. He’ll always enjoy the smells and the exercise. No matter how far you go, invariably he’ll give you an opportunity or two to lean over and pick up his poop. Never leave it behind as pet waste is considered raw sewage because it contains parasites and harmful microorganisms that can easily be transmitted to humans. When it rains, these parasites and bacteria can be washed into nearby storm drains, and ultimately into our water supply. Better to pick it up and put it in a trashcan instead.

4. Prescriptions

The old adage from years ago was to take old and outdated prescriptions and flush them away. Now we know the harm that can do. These compounds have been known to cause disturbing changes to fish and other aquatic life in rivers and streams. And in some cases long term exposure runs full circle and ends up back in our own drinking water, impacting our overall health as well. Instead, return your old medicines to pharmacies that follow proper guidelines for recycling and disposing of your medications.

5. Fertilizers and Pesticides

We all want a green, lush lawn. And those pesky little ants; a few squirts and they will never return. Its easy to solve our problems easily with whatever happens to be on sale at the store; but is it the safest thing? Probably not. When we use too much fertilizer on our laws, the excess gets picked up and drains off into our storm drains. As the nutrients build, they cause algae to bloom and begin absorbing the oxygen in the water supply. That literally chokes the life from the water creatures that help improve our water supply. To avoid that, choose only the chemicals you truly need, and apply selectively when needed.