In October the Think Before You Flush team brought our Halloween campaign to Killarney where the wet wipe monster met the TY Students of St. Bridget’s Secondary School. The team were back again on December 13th to talk about the Think Before You Flush and Think Before You Pour campaigns, no monsters allowed.  

We are now in the seventh year of the campaign and once again Killarney is one of the regional areas the campaign will focus on. The Think Before You Flush and Think Before You Pour campaigns are public awareness campaigns operated by Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water, the campaign’s main lesson is to only flush the 3P’s, pee, poo and paper and all other waste belongs in the bin. The campaign addresses the issue of flushing unsuitable items down the toilet and highlights the consequences of doing so, such as blockages in our homes, the wastewater treatment network and the possibility of sewage related litter ending up in our waterways and on our beaches. Sewage related litter can impact water quality and the marine life that inhabits the waterways.  

Many items such as wipes, cotton bud sticks and dental floss are flushed in error and their presence in the wastewater network affects the network itself as well as water quality. The workshop was carried out in presentation style with interactive experiments. The message connected with other environmental work the school are carrying out.  The presentation also covered 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.This is especially important at Christmas time where many homes are cooking a large roast dinner.  

 Elaine from Clean Coasts travelled to St Bridget’s to meet the students. “The message of the Think Before You Flush campaign is simple, only flush the 3Ps, pee, poo and paper, everything else belongs in the bin. One of the strengths of the campaign is spreading the message online and in person regionally and nationally. It was lovely to meet the students of St Bridget’s, give them information about the campaign and hear about campaign message from the student’s point of view. We know from research carried out that attitudes and flushing behaviours are changing for the better but still is work to do. Knowledge is power and it is important to equip the adults of tomorrow with the knowledge to assist not only themselves but our environment and eachother.” 

Speaking about the Think Before You Flush campaign, Regional Operations Manager for Irish Water, Ian O’Mahony said “Removing blockages in the wastewater network can be a nasty job. Sometimes our crews must enter sewers to remove blockages with shovels or use jetting and suction equipment. This can be easily resolved by changing what we flush down the toilet. This will reduce the number of sewer blockages, the risk of flooding to homes and businesses and the risk of pollution in the environment harming wildlife such as fish and birds and associated habitats. A small change in our flushing behaviour can make a big difference to our natural environment – put wipes, cotton bud sticks and sanitary items in the bin and not down the toilet. We all have a role to play in protecting our beaches, seas and marine life.” 

 The main message left with the students was the simple one of, only flush the 3P’s and put a bin in your bathroom. You are never too young or old to learn this lesson. 

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