Grease is the Word

The kitchen is the heart of the home; laughter, conversation, and satisfied appetites can be inspired by the home-cooked meal. Sadly, one less appealing culprit may also find its origin in the kitchen, specifically the kitchen sink: fatbergs, giant globs of fat, grease, and oil that build up and clog pipes.

Water that goes down the kitchen drain doesn’t disappear; it travels through the sewer system to the wastewater treatment plant to be processed and cleaned and then is reused for purposes such as groundwater recharge and landscape irrigation or released back out into nature to join the water cycle once again.

Because the sewers get water from thousands of kitchens, the smallest amount of grease and oil can build up and completely clog a pipe as the fats and grease cling to the inside of drains and sewer pipes.

MorguefileAlvimannClogged pipes lead to overflows, a serious mood killer at a holiday soiree. Even worse, raw sewage can back up into homes or erupt through manholes, causing damage to homes and the environment. Grease is the cause of approximately 47% of blocked sewage overflows in the U.S. each year (Husain, etc. 2014).

What to do? Thankfully, greasy pipes need not be a by-product of enjoying the turkey dinner. Properly dispose of fats, grease, and oil by-products from meat, cheese and other dairy products, cooking oil, butter and margarine, food scraps, baked goods, gravy, sauces, and dressing using the following methods:

  1. Let it solidify in a non-recyclable container at room temperature or in the fridge and then throw it away in the trash once the container is full.
  2. Wipe down pots, pans, utensils, and dishware with a disposable towel or napkin before washing.
  3. Filter and reuse large amounts of deep-frying oil.
  4. Refrigerate and reuse fat for sautéing, in place of lard, or for flavor.FOG USA GOV
  5. Carefully compost small amounts, preferably soaked in something else compostable, and only if the compost is inaccessible by animals.
  6. Recycle it at a grease disposal or environmental recycling site. Check with your water provider to see if they offer cooking oil recycling.

What not to do? Garbage disposals only shred solids and do not prevent grease from food from building up again. Hot water or a dishwasher might melt the grease and push it further down the drain, but it will only solidify again once it cools, causing a build-up in the main sewer system. Chemicals that claim to dissolve grease will only temporarily push the grease, affecting neighboring lines.

What about restaurants? Encourage local restaurants to keep grease management a priority. In addition to properly disposing of solids, restaurants are required to install grease traps or interceptors, but these systems only work if they are properly sized, installed, and maintained.

Bottom line: Fat, oil, and grease can be part of a healthy, water-wise lifestyle. Take a few moments after each family meal to prevent these dinner by-products from going down the drain. It’s absolutely possible to have your turkey and eat it too.

Click here for more tips about how to use water wisely in the kitchen.

Tina Sleeper is a Water Resource Specialist with the City of Phoenix Water Services Department, one of fifteen Water – Use It Wisely partners to offer water saving advice and programs.


Consider and compare water use when purchasing ice makers, dishwashers, reverse osmosis units, coolers and cleaning equipment.


Run your washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.


If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.


Dishwashers typically use less water than washing dishes by hand. Now, Energy Star dishwashers save even more water and energy.

Green Your Home and Save Water

The City of Mesa’s free “Living Green” workshop series continues Saturday, May 14, at 1:30 p.m. with a seminar on Green Remodeling: The Greenest Building is the Existing One, presented by Philip Beere, Founder of GreenStreet Development. The program will take place at the Mesa Red Mountain Branch Library, 635 N. Power Road in Mesa.

When building or remodeling your home, there are many ways to be more green, and saving water is one of them. Easy green principles to follow include resource conservation, indoor environmental quality, livable communities, energy efficiency and water conservation.

To save water incorporate these tips into your home:

•Incorporate EPA’s WaterSense labeled toilets, showerheads and faucets.

•When buying a clothes washer or dishwasher, check the Consortium for Energy Efficiency Web site ( to compare water use between models.

•Use Xeriscape principles for your landscape including low-water using plants and efficient drip irrigation to reduce outdoor use.

•Don’t forget to consider gray water or rainwater harvesting systems for landscape irrigation as well and permeable pavement for surfaces.

To learn more about this program or other Living Green workshops, visit our site or call (480) 644-4400 for more information.

Mesa is one of fifteen Water – Use It Wisely regional partners, many of whom offer water-wise workshops. Check out all of the partner programs at the Water – Use It Wisely calendar on our home page.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-09-11

  • WUIW daily tip- Report broken pipes, open hydrants and errant sprinklers. #
  • WUIW daily tip- Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. #
  • WUIW daily tip- Walkways and patios provide space that doesn’t ever need to be watered. #
  • WUIW daily tip- While staying in a hotel or even at home, consider reusing your towels. #
  • WUIW daily tip- Don’t water your lawn on windy days when most of the water blows away or evaporates. #
  • WUIW daily tip- Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month. #
  • WUIW daily tip- Check the root zone of your lawn or garden for moisture before watering using a spade or trowel. #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-21

  • WUIW daily tip- When you have ice left in your cup, dump it on a plant. #
  • WUIW daily tip- Don’t forget to check outdoor faucets, sprinklers and hoses for leaks. #
  • WUIW daily tip- When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load. #
  • WUIW daily tip- When you save water, you save money on your utility bills too. #
  • WUIW daily tip- Support projects that use reclaimed wastewater for irrigation and industrial uses. #
  • WUIW daily tip- If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing. #
  • WUIW daily tip- Know where your master water shut-off valve is located. #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-07

  • WUIW daily tip- When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. #
  • WUIW daily tip- Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. #
  • WUIW daily tip- Use a hose nozzle or turn off the water while you wash your car #
  • WUIW daily tip- When shopping for a new clothes washer, compare resource savings among Energy Star model #
  • WUIW daily tip- Share water conservation tips with friends and neighbors. #
  • WUIW daily tip- Use a minimum amount of organic or slow release fertilizer. #