The Think Before You Flush campaign heads to the Ballymun Science Festival this weekend to talk about our toilets, beaches, and sewage-related litter
This Saturday, Think Before You Flush, a campaign operated by Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water, will be exhibiting at the Let’s Talk Science Ballymun Science Festival organised by the Rediscovery Centre. Using interactive experiments and games, the campaign will be demonstrating the environmental issues of marine litter and sewage-related litter.
The Think Before You Flush campaign addresses the issue of flushing unsuitable items down the toilet and highlights the consequences of doing so, such as blockages in our wastewater network and treatment plants, surface water overflows and sewage related litter on our beaches and in our oceans, damaging our marine environment. Many toiletries, such as wet wipes, cotton pads and dental floss, are part of the ‘Dirty Dozen’, which are the top 12 items that are incorrectly flushed down the toilet in Ireland. Other items include hair; paper towels; medicine; tampons; food items; contact lenses; condoms; cigarette butts; and cotton bud sticks.
There is no denying these items are incredibly useful. Many people love the convenience of disposable wet wipes, facial pads and dental floss but are unaware of the problems associated with these items when inappropriately flushed down the toilet. Research has found that just over one in five adults regularly admit to flushing items down the toilet that are known to cause blockages, causing detrimental effects on the wastewater network and the marine environment. Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to disintegrate quickly in our pipes and sewage systems, other items, such as wet wipes, do not break down easily.
Think Before You Flush’s interactive exhibition will also focus on their kitchen campaign, Think Before You Pour. This campaign looks at the issue of pouring fats, oils, and greases (FOGs) from cooking down the kitchen sink. Instead of flowing freely, they cool and harden as they travel along the wastewater network. When these FOGs combine with wipes and other sewage related litter such as hair and dental floss fatbergs can form. Irish Water clears hundreds of blockages including fatbergs from the wastewater network every week. The Think Before Pour campaign urges everyone to avoid washing FOGs down the kitchen drain and, instead, dispose of them in the bin once cool.
Liane Costello is a campaign officer with Clean Coasts and, speaking about the event, said “We are delighted to be invited to the Ballymun Science Festival at the Rediscovery Centre. Our message is simple. We are asking people to re-evaluate their flushing behaviour and to stop sewage-related litter at the source. Remember, only flush the 3 P’s (pee, poo, and paper). Everything else goes in the bin.”
Wastewater Lead and Irish Water’s Think Before You Flush Ambassador, Donal Heaney, added. “We hope that everyone attending the Ballymun Science Festival enjoys hearing about these important campaigns and will continue to Think Before They Flush and Pour. Items like wipes, cotton wool, cotton buds, plasters, sanitary waste dental floss and even hair should never be flushed down the toilet because they can cause blockages in the wastewater network, pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants and can cause pollution. We all have a role in safeguarding our environment so to echo Liane, remember that only pee, poo and paper should be flushed down the toilet.
To learn more about the Think Before You Flush and Think Before You Pour campaigns, visit https://thinkbeforeyouflush.org/ and follow @CleanCoasts on social media.