Posts Tagged ‘Community’


Protect Your Drains

Let’s be honest, we are ALL guilty of rinsing dishes or throwing leftovers or scrapes into our “garbage disposal” in our sinks. After all, if that’s not what it’s meant for, why do we have them? Garbage disposals are great additions to homes. For example, they:

  1. reduce the use of plastic trash bags that end up in landfills and waterways
  2. reduce food waste in landfills, which helps reduce greenhouse gases like methane
  3. send wastewater to water treatment plants where it is then recycled into fertilizer and other energy sources

Despite its benefits, it turns out that garbage disposals are not a trash can substitute. Although it may be convenient, disposing certain things through the sink and garbage disposal does more harm than good to your plumbing, expenses, and to the general quality of water. For example, grease should never be poured down the drain. When fats and grease cool, they solidify, thus creating blockage in the system. Also, grease and water do not mix. If a food item is covered by grease the grease builds up over time making it harder for the water to pass it through the system. On a neighborhood scale, pouring grease in your drains affects  the sewage, water pressure, and water quality for you and your neighbors.

Try to avoid disposing the following into your drains and garbage disposals for the sake of your expenses and the health of the region:

  1. Grease – for the reasons stated above.
  2. Pasta and Rice- When exposed to water, they expand, meaning they will clog your drain.
  3. Bones- The thickness and strength of a bone can reduce the strength and sharpness of the blades and eventually ruin your disposal.
  4. Seeds, apple cores and other solids- these items are too solid for the disposal and, like the bones, can break down your system.
  5. High-fiber foods and egg shells- The fiber in foods like celery, kale, potato peelings and asparagus can entangle the blades, thus slowing down the equipment and dulling the blades.
  6. Hair- Like fibrous foods, hair can get tangled in the drain, creating more blockage, slowing down the equipment and dulling the blades.
  7. Coffee Grounds- This tends to get caught in the drain trap.
  8. Non-food items- The quickest way to ruin your system is to place plastic items such as utensils, plates or even napkins into the garbage disposal. If is harder for such items to pass and can destroy or back up a system.
  9. Chemicals- Though household cleaners and items like bleach and paint are liquids, they can cause damage to the drain. Also most contain toxic chemicals that are then passed into the water system and are much harder to filter.

So what is safe to go down the drain? Below are things most disposals and drains are equipped to handle:

  1. Water- It’s a best practice to rinse your drain and disposal first before running food through it.
  2. Liquids and soft foods- It’s important to specify here that chemicals are inappropriate. Juices, vinegar,milk, etc are ok. As far as foods, blend or chop up the food as much as possible. The consensus is that if it’s smooth or soft enough for a baby to eat, then it is ok for the drain.
  3. Ice- this may help break up any build up in the pipes while also giving it a good rinse.

Key takeaway: Do not place non-food items into the garbage disposal. This will save you money, time, and frustration within your home and extend the longevity and quality of the regional water and sewer system. Remember, every small action has large scale consequences for the region and individual alike.
For more information on how to protect your drains, check out sites like the North Texas “Defend Your Drains” Program or your city’s recommendations on composting, recycling and waste management. And in case you forget, check out this infographic by 1st call drains at

Drainage Clearance

Drainage Clearance

Christie Holland is an urban planner from St. Louis, MO interested in community development, transportation planning, infrastructure, and urban design challenges. 



Giving Tuesday: Staff Picks

Today is Giving Tuesday. Each member of Nspiregreen staff selected an organization for us to donate money. Below are the organization that each staff selected for Giving Tuesday.

Veronica: The organization I selected is N Street Women’s Village. They provide services, housing, and advocacy for women who are housing insecure and without a place to call home. Many of the women they serve are over 50 years old. I serve meals at the N Street NW location and teach yoga at the Rhode Island Ave NW location.

Chanceé: The National Society of Black Engineers is an organization near and dear to my heart. With black engineers making up less than 5% of the engineering population in the USA, NSBE’s mission to “increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community,” is more important now than ever. Veronica and I met as student leaders in NSBE and it is where we developed the idea for Nspiregreen. With STEM programming and support for pre-college, collegiate and professional members NSBE is the premiere organization to address disparities in engineering.

Jimena: Giving back is something that it’s very important for me. I choose Rebuilding Together Alexandria. They provide safe and healthy homes, parks, and schools create stability and strong communities. As a volunteer, I have seen multiple people come together to help low-income families, seniors, and veterans living in Alexandria, Virginia to have a better quality of life. 

Stacy: My pick is Conservation International, because they work to fight climate change at the source of the problem – how communities, government, businesses, and society in general approach environmental sustainability. Plus, every donation today is matched by one of their partners, so double benefit!

Christine: I select City Blossoms because it is an organization that I admire, but is also similar to one that I’ve worked with in the past. I love their focus on creating green spaces that also feed people, allowing kids and youth to be more connected with fruits and vegetables, and take ownership of a piece of their communities. I admire their Mighty Greens initiative to teach youth business, professional, and craft skills that they can carry forward in their lives. There’s a matching grant today so every donation is doubled up to their $10,000 goal.

Mei: I’m selecting to NRDC because they fight climate change with us. They are one of the nation’s most powerful environmental charity. The first time I heard about this organization was on the TV show, “How I Met Your Mother”.  It was the dream organization of one of the characters, and I totally agree with him to build a better environmental friendly world.

Sarah: I select the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington, which provides critical health, educational and community support for both expectant and new families across the dc area—many of their services at a free and reduced cost for low income parents. Healthy, vibrant communities are only possible with access to fundamental healthcare and new-parent education for all infants, mothers, fathers and caregivers, and the breastfeeding center provides these services while also prioritizing transit accessibility and broad community outreach across the dc metro area.





We would love to help you with your sustainability goals.