Why Cigarette Waste and Your Household Drains Don't Mix
How many cigarette butts do you think are disposed of each year? 450 million? 4.5 billion? 450 trillion?
If you chose 450 trillion, you are correct. It's an understatement to say that this is rather a lot. As a smoker, you probably already have a method for getting rid of your own share of these cigarette butts. This might simply be to empty your ashtrays into your rubbish bin once you are sure that the contents are entirely cool. One thing you must never do is to dispose of your cigarette butts into your toilet or other household drains. Sometimes it feels like this is the easiest way to get rid of them, while also ensuring that there is no risk of fire. However, to dispose of your cigarette butts in this way is not only bad for the environment, but it can also lead to blocked drains. So why should you never dispose of your cigarette butts in this manner? And what is in fact the best way to get rid of them?
You might lose a certain amount of cigarette ash down your drains when you wash out an ashtray. While this is not going to cause any major issues, you need to make sure that no actual cigarette butts make their way into your drains, either when washing an ashtray or by deliberately flushing those butts down the toilet.
Cigarette filters are the real problem that can block your toilet or other drains. These filters are made from cellulose acetate, which is a type of plastic that is woven together until it takes on a fibrous form. They are non-organic, meaning that they will not biodegrade all that easily. If they make their way into your drains and are carried away with your wastewater, they can cause significant environmental problems. These filters will also soak up water like a sponge, and so if enough of them accumulate inside your pipes, you are faced with the possibility of your drains becoming blocked.
When washing your ashtrays, ensure that all cigarette butts have been removed, however mangled they might be. You can get into the habit of emptying your ashtrays into a jar with a lid. You can even put some water into the jar to prevent the contents from igniting. The smell will not be pleasant, but it's a safe option. When it's full, you can simply seal the jar and throw it away with your household rubbish. While it's in fact possible to recycle dry cigarette ash and butts, these schemes are not particularly widespread. It can be worthwhile to contact your local council to find out if such a scheme exists in your area.
It's important to remember that cigarettes and your drains don't work well together. Smoking can be an expensive habit, but it can be even more expensive if you need to call a plumber to unblock your blocked drains!