Issued Monday, 01 February 2021 – In the lead up to Valentine’s Day, Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water and the Think Before You Flush campaign, are asking you to share your plastic-free love story. We want to hear from people who have ended their relationship with a single-use plastic item they thought they could not live without and found a new more sustainable love. And who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one inspiring someone else to #BreakUpWithPlastic too!

Ireland is the number one plastic waste producer in the European Union, with 54kg of plastic waste per person produced each year, as well as being the country with the fourth lowest recycling rate. Over the past few years, with the #BreakUpWithPlastic initiative, Clean Coasts are raising awareness about the impact of plastic pollution on our planet and marine environment and asking people to stop opting for single-use plastic.

Ireland has some of the most diverse and spectacular coastlines in the world. However, an excessive use of plastic is not only polluting Irish oceans and seas, but it is also threatening our marine wildlife and people’s health. According to Ocean Conservancy’s Coastal Cleanup Report 2020, the most common items found on the Irish Coast were plastic food wrappers, cigarette butts and plastic beverage bottles.

This February, Clean Coasts are joined by the Think Before You Flush campaign to raise awareness regarding the flushing of unsuitable items down the toilet. Think Before You Flush is a public awareness campaign addressing the issue of flushing items such as wipes, cotton buds, dental floss and sanitary products, down the toilet. Many of these items contain plastic, and as well as blocking our wastewater systems, they can contribute to plastic pollution in our oceans, littering our coasts and causing serious harm to our marine life if disposed of incorrectly.

One item Think Before You Flush aims to raise awareness of is the wet wipe. The common misconception that wet wipes can be flushed, even if labelled ‘flushable’, causes blockages in our network, pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants. These items can also end up on our beaches. Many wet wipes contain plastics which can break down into microplastics, causing damage to our marine environment. This Valentine’s Day, Think Before You Flush are asking you to #BreakUpWithPlastic and say goodbye to single-use wipes. When this isn’t possible, make sure you ‘love your loo’ and dispose of them properly in the bin, and never down the toilet.

Speaking about the campaign, Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts said: “This year Clean Coasts want to hear your good news stories of how you have been able to break up with single use plastic. We realise it can be difficult to make the break from single use, especially with all that is going on, so for anybody starting the journey towards new, reusable, long-lasting loves, we have tips and hints on our website to get you started.”

Talking about the size and scale of the problem associated with flushing the wrong things down the toilet, Tom Cuddy, Irish Water said, “Everyday people flush thousands of items such as wet wipes down the toilet instead of simply putting them in the bin. This causes blockages in our network, pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants. Recent studies have found that 4 out of 10 people admit to flushing wipes down the toilet. It is no surprise therefore that we are clearing approximately 2,000 blockages from our wastewater network every month. A significant proportion of which are caused by wipes.”

Tom continued, “People are using more wipes than ever to keep hands and surfaces clean. While it is critical that we follow the HSE guidance, it is important that we dispose of items like wipes correctly. A simple solution is to only flush the 3 P’s – pee, poo and paper down the toilet and throw wipes and other sanitary products in the bin. In the lead up to Valentine’s Day, Think Before You Flush are asking you #BreakUpWithPlastic and bin your wipes.”

To encourage people to ‘break-up with plastic’, Clean Coasts and Think Before You Flush are giving away three personalised plastic-free hampers, as well as a custom laser-engraved Ecoset refillable bottle and tumbler gift set. To be in with a chance to win, visit our social media channels and share your ‘love story’ of how you’ve fallen in love with a plastic-free solution or product, and how your love has helped you #BreakUpWithPlastic.

Find out more at www.cleancoasts.org and www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org or find us on social media @CleanCoasts.

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