Chirping birds, vibrant wildflowers, and a clear, blue sky are all reminders that spring has sprung here in Sarasota County. In addition to spending some much needed time outdoors in the beautiful weather, many of us are getting to work on cleaning our homes for the new season.
The usual spring cleaning routine includes reorganizing your closet, sweeping the floor, cleaning your kitchen counters, and clearing out your pantry. However, one item that should most certainly be added to your list this year is keeping your sink and pipes FOG-free.
FOGs, or fats, oils, and grease, are notorious for clogging up pipes, which can lead to damaged plumbing systems, sewage spills on the street, and very expensive repairs. One surefire way to avoid all this damage is to greatly reduce the amount of FOGs that go down your sink. These substances have a much higher density than water, and some can even become solid at cooler temperatures.
When FOGs enter our county’s sewage system, they can condense with other non-soluble waste and create fatbergs, which disrupt the flow of wastewater through our pipes. After a while, these clogs put too much pressure on the pipes’ structure, leading to breakage and potential spills. You can make a big difference in preventing these spills at home by making a few easy changes to your after-meal cleanup routine.
Here are the top five foods to keep out of your sink and how to properly dispose of them.
Includes: milk, butter, cream, sour cream, half-and-half, yogurt, and cheese
Disposal: Most of your solid dairy products (like butter, sour cream, yogurt, and cheese) can be scraped directly into the trash. For liquid dairy, you can either toss it out in its original container or use an absorbent material to help soak it up. Try using kitty litter, paper towels, or old sponges to help you get rid of excess milk and cream.
Includes: salad dressing, gravy, pasta sauce, mayonnaise, hollandaise, and many more!
Disposal: You can pour most of these substances into a disposable container before throwing them in the trash. If you’re using a soda can, you can use scissors to cut open the top for a wider pour.
Includes: poultry, pork, beef, lamb
Disposal: Solid chunks of meat can be thrown directly in the trash. If you have a dish with some extra fats or sauces, try using a fork to scrape the meat off your plate, and pour the rest of your meal into a disposable container.
Includes: Olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil, canola oil, and essentially anything with “oil” in the name
Disposal: All leftover oils should be poured into a disposable container and thrown out if you do not plan on reusing them for cooking at a later point.
Includes: Eggs, baked goods, nut butters, and anything else
Disposal: Most of these items can be composted or scraped directly into the trash. If you do decide to compost your scraps, check out this quick tutorial on how and what to compost. You can also sign up for our online Composting Basics course or tune in to one of our upcoming live webinars featuring topics like vermicomposting (composting with worms). If you are unable to compost an item, try to find creative ways to reuse your scraps. For instance, nut butters can be combined with seeds and nuts to make an excellent treat for birds.
What counts as a disposable container? You can use old soda cans, yogurt cups with aluminum lids, empty tubs of butter and margarine, used glass containers of pasta sauce, finished pints of creamer, and old milk cartons. Try storing some of your clean recycled containers in a separate bin for when you need them. Plus, there are always other creative ways you can upcycle your containers!
The general rule of thumb is to use disposable containers when you’re handling liquids and some non-solid foods, like sauces. Be sure to always wait at least five minutes for hot substances to cool down. If you’re worried about a mess, don’t be afraid to line your work area with a paper towel or reusable washcloth. Otherwise, using a funnel can also help prevent any unwanted spills.
Hot tip: Keep a large disposable container in your fridge where you can store all of your FOGs for the week! Just make sure it can be sealed to prevent any unsavory smells. Then, when trash day rolls around, you can throw it out with the rest of your garbage.
For more information on FOGs and FOG disposal, check out Sarasota County’s FOG Ordinance website.
An Equal Opportunity Institution. UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Tom Obreza, interim dean for UF/IFAS Extension. Sarasota County prohibits discrimination in all services, programs or activities. View the complete policy at www.scgov.net/ADA.