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Thanksgiving Dinner: It Clogs Your Arteries and Blocks Sewer Pipes

Thanksgiving is a great time wherever you celebrate it, but consider for a moment what happens to all the fat you did not eat?

Thanksgiving is a great time wherever you celebrate it but, as all the fat from those rich dishes start to course through your veins and you sluggishly push away from the table to loosen the top button of your pants, consider for a moment what happens to all the fat you did not eat? Which leads me to this question – what to do with all that fat still on your plates or sitting in your deep fryer? 

Few people know or realize that the fat leftover from our cooking and eating has a direct link to keeping our oceans and beaches clean and safe. This is because the fat we send down our drain when we are cleaning up after dinner (any dinner, not just Thanksgiving) is a contributor to one of the most common causes of sewage spills in the United States.

Nationally, approximately 80 percent of the sewage spills that happen are due to what people in the wastewater industry refer to as F.O.G. – Fats, oils, and grease. F.O.G. that goes down our drains can stick to the sides of the pipes and just like fat in our arteries, it can build up. Overtime, F.O.G. can build to enormous quantities in our sewage pipes and can lead to sewage spills.

Here in San Diego, we regularly have sewage spills because of F.O.G. Over the past year in San Diego County, 17 sewage spills were caused by F.O.G., releasing over 15,000 gallons of sewage, 6,215 of which reached surface waters in our area. Coastkeeper has been working for almost 15 years to keep sewage out of the water in San Diego so we understand that preventing these types of spills is an important part of maintaining the health of our oceans.

So, the answer to my question is - don’t pour the F.O.G. in your sinks or toilets. Also, flushing grease down a drain with soapy, hot water only moves the problem further down the system, it doesn’t eliminate it. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Follow these simple guidelines put out by the City of San Diego.
  • For small amounts of F.O.G., scrape out or use paper towels to wipe your pans, and then place the F.O.G. or soiled paper towels in the garbage.
  • Pour excess fat into used milk or frozen juice cartons, let harden and then place it in your garbage.
  • For larger amounts of F.O.G. (like after deep frying that turkey), City of San Diego residents can recycle their cooking oil and grease at the Miramar Landfill Recycling Center. A cooking oil recycling bin is available for disposal of up to 30 gallons of cooking oil and grease. There is no charge for the service.
  • I Love a Clean San Diego refers people to the closest place to recycle cooking oil all over the county.
  • Or maybe you can consider doing what the City of San Francisco did and put that cooking fat to work fueling your car!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Clariece Tally November 22, 2011 at 05:07 PM
Here I was all set to holler at you about ruining holiday dinners with heart healthy advice (total bah humbug)! Instead you provided excellent reminders about how to properly dispose of FOG. Anyone who lives on septic vs. city knows to follow these guidelines but they're good reminders for the rest of us.
Christine Huard November 22, 2011 at 05:57 PM
I'd be the LAST person to tell anyone they had to eat healthy on a holiday! That's what the rest of the year is for. And I have to say, I'm a little embarrassed that I've known it was bad to put grease down the drain, but I didn't fully understand why. I appreciate these easy tips for helping to keep drain pipes and the environment clean!
Tom Yarnall November 24, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Shortly after moving into my home, some 36 years ago, my plumbing plugged and I had to have my septic tank pumped. When the pumper took the lid off I was amazed at the huge blob of fat in the tank that was blocking the flow of water and the bio- degradable process. I couldn't believe the previous owner could have generated that much fat waste in just a few years. Since that time we have put very little, no fat, down the garbage disposal and the tank has not been pumped in well over 20 years. If you want to contribute to the environment follow Gale's suggestions. When preparing a meal put a bag in the sink, knot the top and put it in the garbage can when finished. Newspaper bags are a good source.

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