A walking tour with a difference

On Friday, September 23rd, as a part of Culture Night Dublin, the Think Before Your Flush campaign hosted the ‘Talking Sh*te: Dublin’s sanitation from the 18th century to present day’ walking tour. This tour transports those attending through time and waste to a vastly different Dublin than today’s city. From putrid open cesspools and disease epidemics of the 18th century through to modern day waste management and sewage related litter, the Think Before You Flush team demonstrate how far the city has come in terms of wastewater management.

Think Before You Flush is run by Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water. The message of this environmental awareness campaign is simple, only flush pee, poo and paper down the toilet, everything else belongs in the bin. These small actions can have a positive impact on our water system, waterways, the coast, and marine life.

It is hard to even begin imagining what life was like prior to the development of a functioning wastewater management system in Dublin City. Lacking any appropriate sewer system, disease ran rife as excrement would often be tossed out to the street from the windows of lodgings. This tour is not, however, all doom and gloom. As the participants move toward the 21st century, they learn about the lifesaving development of our current wastewater system and the steps they can take to protect our wastewater network from their homes, offices, and communities.

While participants need not worry about encountering open cesspits during this tour, Think Before You Flush did talk about the lives of people living in the 18th and 19th centuries where preventable diseases proved fatal due to the lack of basic sanitation and water. The tour reflects on those times and looks at the impact our own convenience driven culture has on the local environment.

Why must you #ThinkB4UFlush?

Think Before You Flush is a public awareness campaign operated by Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water, addressing the issue of flushing unsuitable down the toilet. Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to disintegrate quickly in our pipes and sewage systems, the synthetic materials in items like wipes, cotton buds and sanitary products makes them strong and unable to break down and can lead them to end up in the waterways and on our beaches.  Almost 2,000 blockages occur in the Irish wastewater network every month, 75% of which are caused by wipes. Raising awareness of this issue reduces the number of blockages created by this behaviour.

Our actions at home can have an impact on our waterways and coastline and they are something we need to protect as they cannot protect themselves.

Speaking about the campaign Liane Costello from Clean Coasts, said: “We were delighted to bring the Think Before You Flush message to Culture Night Dublin. Our goal is to ensure that everyone knows to only flush the 3 P’s, pee, poo and paper, down the toilet and that everything else belongs in the bin. By doing this, we protect our wastewater network and our natural environment. This walking tour offers our team a fantastic opportunity to talk about the importance of water and sanitation in our lives and the need to protect these precious services.”

Irish Water’s Donal Heaney said, “We’re delighted to be part of the Culture Night 2022 festivities. We are always looking for opportunities to educate and inform the general public on what not to flush down the toilet. Every day, thousands of unsuitable items are flushed down the toilet instead of being put in the bin. Anything other than the three p’s, pee, poo and paper, has the potential to cause huge problems to the plumbing in our homes, our neighbour’s homes, our wastewater network and our marine environment. We hope everyone enjoys the walk and will continue to think before they flush.”

Join the campaign at thinkbeforeyouflush.org and follow @CleanCoasts on social media.