The Regional Municipality Of York

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I Don’t Flush – A Prescription for Clean Water

Just Because Something Says it Can Be Flushed, Doesn't Mean It Should Be Flushed!

Many items we use on a daily basis like wipes, personal hygiene products and personal protective items cannot go down our toilets or drains.  Flushing these materials can cause damage to the wastewater treatment system, and may potentially cause sewer backups in your home. 

Now more than ever we need to take care of our vital systems.  The wastewater treatment system is designed to treat and process wastewater from our homes and businesses. The process breaks down the waste so it can be filtered and removed before the disinfected water is returned to the environment.

These items DO NOT break down and present a threat to the health of the system. They can cause blockages, increased maintenance, equipment malfunctions and can even contribute to environmental spills and overflows. These items should be disposed of properly in the garbage and/or green bin where they cannot harm our wastewater treatment system. 

Remember, there are only three things that can be flushed – Number “1”, number “2” and toilet paper.



York Region in partnership with the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) and the Clean Water Foundation are working together to promote the “I Don’t Flush” campaign which encourages residents to properly dispose of pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Unused or expired pharmaceuticals should be brought to a local pharmacy instead of flushing them down the drain or in the garbage. Flushable wipes and personal care products should be put into the garbage, while sanitary products can be put into the green bin. 

Funny Public Service Announcements from I Don’t Flush.


Doing Our Part

York Region provides high-quality drinking water and wastewater services throughout the nine area municipalities, however, keeping our source water clean and ensuring items are disposed of properly, requires each and every one to do their part.

Traces of pharmaceuticals are being detected in rivers, lakes, drinking water and soil.  One of the ways they get into the environment is by consumers throwing medications and other personal care products in the garbage, or flushing them down the toilet or the sink. Taking preventative action by disposing of pharmaceuticals safely, helps protect our drinking water sources and our ecosystems.

Flushing personal care products down the toilet can lead to backups in your home, problems at wastewater treatment facilities and can even cause sewage to overflow into our lakes and rivers.

Take Action

How can you help?

  1. Take your unused or expired pharmaceuticals and sharps (such as needles)  back to your local participating pharmacy for proper disposal. Most pharmacies will take back unused/expired pharmaceuticals – visit healthsteward.ca to find a pharmacy by address and/or postal code.
  2. When possible, avoid purchasing flushable wipes. If you need to dispose of flushable wipes and personal care products, put them where they belong—in the garbage. In York Region, sanitary products (e.g. pads, tampons, diapers and incontinence products) are accepted in the green bin. Not sure where it goes? The bindicator knows.

Visit idontflush.ca for:

  • A list of items that should never be flushed or poured down the sink
  • How to properly dispose of pharmaceuticals or speak to your local pharmacy

Join the conversation on Twitter @Idontflushnews #idontflush, or on Facebook


Protect Your Pipes! 

Learn how to properly dispose of fats, oils and grease in York Region.


About Our Partners

The Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) works hard to ensure its clients always have clean, safe drinking water in their communities. They pride themselves on effective service, efficiency, trust and accountability. For more information visit ocwa.com

The Clean Water Foundation is a Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to engaging individuals in actions that preserve, protect and improve our water. They work in partnership with public, private and charitable interests to create policies and programs that encourage water friendly behaviours. For more information visit cleanwaterfoundation.org


Related Resources

Watch the Singing Sewermen from Thames River sing about the 12 blockages



I Don’t Flush,Prescription,Clean,Water,campaign,OCWA The Regional Municipality of York en-US I don't Flush wipes down the toilet I Don’t Flush – A Prescription for Clean Water The “I Don’t Flush” campaign encourages residents to dispose of pharmaceuticals at local pharmacies instead of down the drain or in the garbage.

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