Everyday habits to help America’s infrastructure

(BPT) - Crumbling bridges, failing subway lines, gridlocked roads, water and sewage systems that haven't been updated for over 100 years and a vulnerable electric grid. This might sound like the scene of a futuristic world in ruins, but in fact, these images describe the state of America's deteriorating infrastructure.

By now, many have heard politicians and newscasters talk about how urgent it is for us to invest in repairing and maintaining essential infrastructure. The Society of Civil Engineers gives America's infrastructure a grade of a D+ and estimates that it would cost approximately $4.6 trillion to fix this problem.

That is an enormous amount of money.

For the average American, the problem can seem overwhelming. But there are steps each of us can take to reduce the burden on our nation's infrastructure.

Know what to flush and what not to flush

Only two things should be flushed down the toilet: wipes labeled as "flushable" and toilet paper. A recent study revealed that 98 percent of what was collected at a wastewater treatment plant were non-flushable items, including paper towels, baby wipes, disinfecting wipes, surface cleaning wipes and feminine hygiene products. Flushing products that are not intended to be flushed can lead to serious problems for sewers and wastewater treatment operations.

Conserve electricity

America has a massive electrical grid. When you step back to think about it, the network of power stations, power lines and generators that span this country is truly astonishing. But much of the grid is outdated and running at full capacity. Simple steps to conserve energy that can help reduce the burden on the grid include using energy-efficient light bulbs, unplugging electronics and appliances when not in use, washing clothes in cold water and installing a programmable thermostat. These steps will also save you money on your monthly utility bills.

Use flushable wipes

To avoid clogging their own toilet and creating larger problems for wastewater treatment facilities, many people are switching to flushable wipes. This prevents them from accidentally flushing non-flushable wipes down the toilet. Made from fibers that are 100 percent plant based and designed to lose strength and disintegrate in the wastewater systems, flushable wipes will not clog wastewater pumps and are safe to flush.

Be careful about what you throw away

When it comes to garbage, most of us take an 'out of sight, out of mind' approach. About half of the solid waste we all produce goes to a landfill. In most cases, our garbage and solid waste is managed and funded by local governments and through fees homeowners pay. By taking greater steps to recycle and reduce their waste, individuals can help relieve the burden put on landfills.

Repairing our nation's infrastructure will be an enormous undertaking, and each of us will have a part to play. The steps mentioned above have an immediate effect on your household and, over time, can contribute to the overall resiliency of our infrastructure.

To learn more, visit Responsible Flushing Alliance.

June 26, 2018