4A: Down The Drain Challenge, Bianca Porfoun

Environment   Oct 18, 2018 by Bianca Porfoun

OCT 18 - Down the Drain Challenge

  • What types of things went down your sink?
    • Water, soap, coffee and a facemask.
  • Estimate the volume of liquids that went down the drain? Did you include a way to measure how much liquid went down?
    • The way I estimated the amount of liquids that went down my drain was just by tracking the activities I did that whole day. I started at 8 AM to 3 AM.
    • My list of activities.
      • Bushed my teeth 2
      • Went to the bathroom 4 times
      • Washed my hands 5 times
      • Poured old water down the drain
      • Leftover coffee down the drain
  • How much of this waste do you think enters the ocean? Do you know how wastewater is treated in your city?
    • For the amount of waste that enters our ocean in Calgary, it is very little compared to someone else who lives close to the ocean.  
    • Our water in Calgary is treated at Ronnybrook wastewater treatment plant.
  • Besides your bathroom and kitchen, are there any other drains that may lead to the ocean?
    • Some drains may lead to the ocean but for the most part in Calgary our water waste is filtered in our treatment plants and is put back in our rivers which will eventually lead to the ocean. For example, the Bow river travels throughout Alberta and ends up in the Hudson Bay. Some sources say that putting filtered water back into our oceans and rivers are improving our water quality and are keeping our fish and wildlife healthy. Before the water is put back into the oceans and rivers it has to go through a process to ensure that the water is meeting up to specific standards and has to be approved by the environment agency.
  • Check the label of the clothing you are currently wearing. Anything that is not cotton is likely a synthetic blend (aka: plastic). In each wash, these microfibres are released. What happens to them then?
    • Those microfibers ultimately end up in the ocean and affect the aquatic wildlife. The microfibers also end up being ingested by wildlife and after ingesting too much plastic, it can cause harm to them and death. To any younger fish, it can interfere with growth and development. Not only is this affecting the aquatic wildlife it is also affecting tiny organisms that are there to help the ocean. They are the ones breaking down driftwood, whale poop and many other things but they grab onto the microscopic pieces of plastic and try to break them down and since they can’t, those bits of plastic absorb toxins. Then the little fish eat the bits of plastic and then the bigger fish eat those little fish and it continues to work its way up the food chain until its back to us on our dinner plates.  

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3 Comment(s)

Nov 9, 2018

Isn't it insane how a simple thing we do, such as washing our hands, or using the toilet can greatly impact wildlife and the ocean!?

Rian Hoyle
Nov 3, 2018

Even for us in land-locked Alberta it's crazy how our daily actions will impact wildlife that lives thousands of kilometers away. I felt that tracking my water usage was truly eye opening and I think everyone should work to minimize water usage because not only if it's contaminated with micro-plastics it will harm wildlife but there is a finite amount of water and there is no need to waste it.

Lindsay Rankin
Nov 1, 2018

Hi Bianca! 

Some great logging for this Down the Drain Challenge! Isn't it crazy to see how much water we use (and sometimes waste) in even just one day! 

I was really intrigued by your comment, "For the amount of waste that enters our ocean in Calgary, it is very little compared to someone else who lives close to the ocean." could you explain this a little bit more for me? Do you mean directly vs. indirectly? 

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts :)