Do you flush your contact lenses? Here are a few reasons you should stop.
Contact lenses have become an essential part of modern-day life for millions of people worldwide. They are a convenient and relatively inexpensive way to improve your vision and enjoy an active lifestyle. However, many people are unaware of the negative impact contact lenses can have on the environment, especially when they are not disposed of properly.
One of the most common ways that contact lenses are improperly disposed of is by flushing them down the toilet. Many people assume that this is a safe and easy way to get rid of their contact lenses, but in reality, it can have serious consequences for both the environment and our water systems. Around 20% of contact lens wearers dispose of their lenses in the toilet or down the sink. That totals around 3.3 billion lenses discarded improperly each year in the US alone.
Here are a few reasons why you should never flush your contact lenses down the toilet:
Contact lenses do not break down easily
Unlike toilet paper or other biodegradable items, contact lenses are made from a combination of plastic and silicone materials that do not break down easily in water. This means that when you flush your contact lenses down the toilet, they can end up in our oceans, rivers, and other waterways, where they can harm wildlife and contribute to pollution.
2. Contact lenses can harm wildlife
When contact lenses are flushed down the toilet, they can end up in our water systems, where they can harm wildlife. Small animals like fish and birds can mistake contact lenses for food and ingest them, which can cause serious health problems and even death.
3. Contact lenses can clog pipes and sewer systems
Flushing contact lenses down the toilet can also cause problems for our sewer systems. Contact lenses are small and can easily pass through pipes, but they can also accumulate and form clumps that can clog pipes and cause blockages. This can lead to costly repairs and maintenance for local governments and utilities.
4. Contact lenses contribute to microplastic pollution
Microplastics are small plastic particles that are less than 5 millimeters in length. They are a growing concern for the environment because they can be ingested by marine life and enter the food chain, ultimately affecting human health. Contact lenses contribute to microplastic pollution when they are flushed down the toilet and end up in our waterways.
5. Contact lenses can be recycled
The good news is that contact lenses can be recycled! Many eyeglass stores and optometrists have programs in place to collect and recycle contact lenses and their packaging. By properly disposing of your contact lenses, you can help reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our landfills and waterways. You can find a local drop-off location by clicking here.
In conclusion, flushing your contact lenses down the toilet is not a safe or responsible way to dispose of them. Instead, take the time to properly dispose of your contact lenses by recycling them through a local program or placing them in the trash. By doing so, you can help protect the environment and ensure that our water systems remain clean and healthy for generations to come.