The Think Before You Flush campaign highlights simple actions we can do in our bathroom and kitchen which can make a big difference to the environment.

The Think Before You Flush Campaign, operated by Clean Coasts in partnership with Uisce Éireann, had a presence at this year’s National Marine Environment Conference organised by Green Schools. The conference is a gathering of students and teachers from all over the country to learn more about how they can help in shaping our future. The campaign urged the attendees to protect our environment by only flushing the 3Ps, pee, poo, and paper, down the toilet, everything else goes in the bin.

The Think Before You Flush campaign strives to encourage behavioural change across Ireland and asks people to stop flushing any unsuitable items such as wipes, cotton bud sticks or dental floss down the toilet.

The conference was held in Little Island, just outside Cork city in Cork Harbour, a setting to help the students and teachers alike think about the consequences of flushing incorrect items down the toilet.

Flushing items such as wipes down our toilets can lead to blockages in our wastewater network, treatment plants and sewage overflows and can result in sewage related litter on our beaches, in our oceans, damaging water quality and 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; sanitary products; food items; contact lenses; condoms; cigarette butts; and cotton bud sticks.

At the conference students also learnt about the Think Before You Pour campaign. This campaign highlights the issue of pouring fats, oils, and greases (FOGs) from cooking down the kitchen sink. Instead of flowing freely, the FOGs 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. Uisce Éireann clears approximately 200 blockages, including fatbergs, from the wastewater network every week. The Think Before Pour campaign urges everyone to avoid washing or pouring FOGs down the kitchen drain and, instead, dispose of them in the bin once cool.

Speaking about the event, Patrick Cross Think Before You Flush Campaign Officer said, ”we are delighted to have contributed to the National Marine Environment Conference in Cork and interact with such a receptive audience. The goal of the campaign is to support individuals to make informed decisions in their bathrooms and kitchens and protect Irelands beautiful marine ecosystems. The NMEC provided an ideal platform to spread awareness about the Think Before You Flush campaign and inspire positive change.”

The students immersed themselves in a day of knowledge about marine and environmental education. The Think Before You Flush and Pour campaigns really allows them to see how their actions can affect their environment and even small changes, such as what we flush, can make the world a better place.