Tips for a Healthy Bay


  • Don't pour fats, oils and grease down the drain. When leftover oil and grease are rinsed down the drain, it can clog sewer pipes and lead to sewage spills in the Bay. Instead, wipe oily pots and pans with a paper towel or put excess grease in a can, and put it in the trash. Take large quantities of oil and grease to a collection site. 
  • Don't use toxic products in your household. Limit your purchase and use of products such as cleansers, paints and insecticides that contain hazardous chemicals - these chemicals often end up in creeks, groundwater and the Bay. Choose non-toxic products or alternatives like vinegar or baking soda. When disposing of toxic products, never pour them down the sink, toilet or storm drain; instead, take them to a hazardous disposal facility.
  • Don’t put medications down the sink or toilet. When medications like antibiotics, anti-depressants and birth control pills are flushed down the toilet, they aren’t removed by the wastewater treatment process. These pharmaceuticals persist in the environment, altering the natural state of the Bay and endangering aquatic life. Take unused medication to a proper disposal facility, or put them in a sealed container and in the trash.
  • Reduce your use of products containing the chemical triclosan. Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that is toxic to aquatic life and linked to serious human health problems. Check the labels of products like hand sanitizers, toothpaste, soaps, detergents and deodorant, and opt for versions that don’t contain triclosan.
  • Avoid products containing plastic microbeads. Microbeads are tiny particles of plastic used in facial scrubs, shampoo, and other personal care products. When these products are washed down the drain, microbeads aren’t removed by wastewater treatment, so they enter the Bay, harming wildlife. Avoid products containing Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), or nylon.


  • Practice Bay-friendly car maintenance. Don’t wash your car in your driveway or street, where harmful chemicals flow into storm drains and end up in the Bay; instead, take your car to a car wash facility where the water is diverted to a wastewater treatment plant. Check your car regularly for leaks – residue from oil and gas leaks will eventually wash into the Bay.
  • Don't use pesticides in your yard or garden. Urban pesticide use is a major source of water pollution that kills fish and aquatic plants and insects. Many weeds and pests are better repelled by physical removal or by beneficial plants and insects that naturally control pest populations.
  • Reuse rainwater. Reduce both your water consumption and storm water pollution to the Bay by capturing rainwater in barrels or cisterns outside your home for later reuse.
  • Plant a rain garden. Direct the rainwater from your roof, driveway and walkways to a garden of native, drought-resistant plants. A rain garden absorbs rainwater and breaks down pollutants naturally instead of allowing polluted rainwater to flow to the Bay.


  • Urge your city to build Bay-friendly sewage and storm water systems. Learn more about the sewage and storm water systems where you live, and support funding increases for infrastructure repairs and upgrades. It’s important that we invest in maintaining effective storm drains and sewer pipes in order to reduce pollution to the Bay.
  • Become a supporter of San Francisco Baykeeper. We’ve been the Bay’s pollution watchdog since 1989, enforcing clean water laws and holding polluters accountable. Support a clean and healthy Bay for all by making a contribution today.