Sally Foran of Irish Beauty Fairy and the Think Before You Flush campaign are urging the people of Enniscorthy not to flush unsuitable items like wet wipes and cotton pads down the toilet.
Sally Foran, a Wexford based skincare and beauty blogger, is teaming up with the Think Before You Flush campaign to invite the people of Enniscorthy to make small changes in their flushing behaviour. Sally will share why flushing unsuitable items like wet wipes and cotton pads down the toilet is problematic, as well as some tips, on her social media accounts: @irishbeautyfairy on Instagram and @thehealthandbeautyfairy on Facebook, on Tuesday 18th May.
There’s no denying wet wipes are incredibly useful. Many people love the convenience of disposable makeup remover wipes but are unaware of the problems associated with these single-use items. As well as coming in plastic packaging, many baby wipes, facial wipes, and antibacterial wipes contain some form of plastic. Unfortunately, plastic in wet wipes doesn’t just disappear when you dispose of them– plastic’s biodegradability is low, meaning it can take hundreds, if not thousands of years to break down. A recent study conducted in Galway, Clare and Mayo by Scientists from Earth and Ocean Sciences and the Ryan Institute at NUIG, found that 50% of wipes labelled as ‘flushable’ were actually made of plastic and were not biodegradable.
Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to disintegrate quickly in our pipes and sewage systems, the synthetic materials in wipes makes them very strong and unable to break down. When wipes are flushed down the toilet it causes blockages in our wastewater network, pumping stations and treatment plants. They can also end up on our beaches and in our oceans, damaging our marine environment. Think Before You Flush is a public awareness campaign operated by Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water, addressing the issue of flushing these unsuitable items down the toilet. Other problem items include cotton buds, dental floss and sanitary products, many of which also contain plastic and should never be flushed.
Enniscorthy, as well as having the River Slaney flowing through it, is a stone’s throw from some of the most diverse and spectacular coastlines in the country. Speaking about the issue of sewage related waste, Sally of Irish Beauty Fairy said “We’re all well aware of how bad make up wipes are for our skin, but they’re also very damaging to our environment as they can cause blockages and end up on our lovely beaches and rivers. Of the 2,000 blockages that Irish water deal with every month, 75% are wipes, so it’s imperative that we make the switch to reusables which are widely available now. Finally, it’s not just our skin and our environment they negatively affect, wipes contain plastics, which break down into micro plastics, which end up in our food chain so they impact our health too! Think Before You Flush and make that switch!”
Speaking about the campaign, Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts said: “Through the Think Before You Flush campaign, we are working with Irish Water to change the nation’s flushing behaviour which will make a difference to our coastal environment. The Think Before You Flush campaign, through education and awareness, aims to prevent items like cotton bud sticks washing up on Ireland’s spectacular beaches. By making small changes in our flushing behaviour we can prevent the harm caused by sewage related litter in the marine environment. We are asking people to dispose of wipes and sanitary waste items in the bin instead of the toilet, this small change can make a big difference.”
Also speaking about the campaign, Niall O’Riordan, Regional Operations Lead with Irish Water said that there were 236 occurrences of sewer blockages in the Enniscorthy area in 2019/20 which account for 33% of the overall blockages in Co Wexford. “Every day people flush sanitary items such as wet wipes and cotton buds down the toilet instead of simply putting them in the bin. This causes blockages in our network, pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants with resultant overflows and environmental issues.” Mr. O’Riordan continued “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Clean Coasts to deliver this important campaign together. We would like to thank the people of Enniscorthy for their support”.
What can you do?
- Put a bin in your bathroom (to reduce the likelihood of wipes and other sanitary related litter ending up in the toilet). You can even download some of our Think Before You Flush resources and stick them up as a reminder.
- Switch to reusable options (to reduce your reliance on single-use items like wipes is to switch to reusable alternatives like a facial cloth). For a zero-waste option, you can make your very own DIY make-up remover or toner too.
- Switch to plastic-free alternatives where possible and always dispose of these items in the general waste bin when you’ve finished with them and never down the toilet.
Join the campaign at www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org and follow @CleanCoasts on social media.