The Think Before You Flush Campaign, operated by Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water, is urging the public to stop flushing wipes down the toilet. In doing so, everyone will help combat frightening fatbergs, wastewater blockages and scary sewage related litter on our beaches this Halloween. After all, there is nothing spookier than waste that comes back to haunt you! When waste items like wet wipes and sanitary items are flushed down the toilet, they can reappear in the form of frightening fatbergs much to our horror.  

When flushed, wet wipes can cause blockages in the sewer pipes at your home or in the public wastewater network. Wet wipes can also cause blockages at pumping stations and can clog screens at wastewater treatment plants. Unlike toilet paper, which disintegrates quickly when flushed, the synthetic materials in items like wet wipes, cotton buds, sanitary products and even dental floss makes them very strong leading to blockages and overflows that can harm our beaches, seas and marine life. 

Speaking about the campaign, Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager, Clean Coasts said: “This Halloween we are urging the public to always Think Before You Flush and throw any wipes used for removing scary make up in the bin to avoid frightening fatbergs! The Think Before You Flush campaign aims to increases education and awareness about sewage related litter, enabling people to realise the consequence of their simple bathroom routine, and letting them know that small changes can prevent items like cotton bud sticks and wet wipes washing up on Ireland’s spectacular beaches.” 

Talking about the size and scale of the problem associated with flushing the wrong things down the toilet, Tom Cuddy, Irish Water said: “In 2021 we found out that 1 in 4 people living in Ireland were still regularly flushing the wrong things down the toilet – that’s almost a million people. The impacts of flushing the wrong things down the toilet are very real in our day to day lives, as we are still removing thousands of sewer blockages from our network every month. 

“Removing blockages can be a nasty job; sometimes workers have to enter sewers to remove blockages with shovels. Some blockages can be removed with jetting and suction equipment. I’ve seen pump blockages that workers have had to literally clear by hand in order to get the pumps up and running again in a race against time to avoid sewage overflows to the environment, onto local beaches or into rivers and streams. 

“Our message is simple, only the 3 Ps, pee, poo and paper should be flushed down the toilet. All other items including wet wipes and other sanitary products should go in the bin even if they are labelled as flushable. We all have a role to play in protecting our beaches, seas and marine life. A small change in our flushing behaviour can make a big difference – put wipes, dental floss and even hair in the bin and not down the toilet to help us avoid frightening blockages this Halloween.”