Think Before You Flush, a public awareness campaign operated by Clean Coasts in partnership with Uisce Éireann, has teamed up with Dunleer Tidy Towns to ask people in the community to rethink their flushing behaviour during the National Spring Clean. Only flush the 3Ps (pee, poo, and paper) down the toilet. Everything else goes in the bin.
The Think Before You Flush campaign addresses the issue of flushing unsuitable items down the toilet and highlights the consequences of doing so. This includes blockages in our wastewater network and treatment plants, surface water overflows and sewage-related litter ending up in our natural environment. The campaign message is simple. Only flush the 3Ps (pee, poo, and paper) down the toilet and everything else goes in the bin.
Damaging items such as wet wipes, sanitary products and dental floss, should never be flushed down the toilet. Research has found that just over one in five adults in Ireland regularly admit to flushing such items down the toilet. Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to disintegrate quickly in our pipes and sewage systems, items like wet wipes do not break down. These items can also contain plastic and, as they degrade, can release microplastics into our waterways impacting water quality and the marine life that inhabits these waterways.
During the National Spring Clean events, the Think Before Your Flush campaign and Dunleer Tidy Towns installed a mobile information board. The information board encouraged the people of Dunleer to help protect their local environment highlighting the most damaging items that should never be flushed down the toilet – the ‘Dirty Dozen’.
The campaign also highlights the issue of pouring fats, oils, and greases (FOGs) from cooking down the kitchen sink. While they are liquid at room temperature, they harden as they travel along the wastewater network. These FOGs can then combine with wipes and other sewage-related litter, such as hair and dental floss, to form fatbergs. Uisce Éireann clears approximately 200 blockages, including fatbergs, from the wastewater network weekly.
Liane Costello, campaign officer with Clean Coasts said “80 percent of marine litter originates from inland sources. Something as harmless as a wipe or tampon can travel from our toilet to the ocean or be washed up on our coastline. As these items make their journey from source to sea, they can cause blockages in our wastewater network and damage to marine life. There is, however, a simple solution. Only flush the 3P’s down the toilet and everything else goes in the bin.”
Donal Heaney, Operations Lead at Uisce Éireann said “We know from our research that attitudes and flushing behaviours are changing for the better but there is still work to do. Almost a million people nationally are still using the toilet as a bin; this includes more than 27,000 in Louth. We are asking people to always Think Before You Flush and take a simple action such as putting a bin in the bathroom. Working with community groups such as Tidy Towns is a powerful way to spread this message. Similar to Tidy Towns, Uisce Éireann is focused on improving the local environment for the benefit of all.”
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