Irish Water and Clean Coasts are urging the public to continue to ‘Think Before You Flush’ as a recent survey has revealed that almost a million adults living in Ireland continue to regularly flush wipes and other sanitary items down the toilet.
Think Before You Flush is a public awareness campaign about the problems sanitary products and other items can cause in the plumbing in our homes, our wastewater network and our marine environment when they are flushed down the toilet.
Those aged under 35 are twice as likely to dispose of ‘flushable’ wipes down the toilet. With sea swimming increasingly popular all year-round, flushing behaviour has a direct impact on the environment and that making small changes can help prevent sanitary waste ending up on Ireland’s sandy beaches, rocky shores and secluded bays.
The most common items being flushed down the toilet are hair, wipes (any), paper towels, toilet wipes, dental floss, cleaning wipes, any other type of wipe, tampons, baby wipes, facial wipes, cotton buds, cigarette butts.
Speaking about the survey results Donal Heaney, Irish Water said: “In 2018, our research informed us that 36% of people living in Ireland were regularly flushing the wrong things down the toilet. Irish Water have been working in partnership with Clean Coasts on the ‘Think Before You Flush’ campaign and during this time, we have made significant progress, as this figure has now reduced to 21%. Whilst this represents a 42% improvement in peoples flushing behaviour, it still represents almost a million people using the toilet as a bin. The impacts of flushing the wrong things down the toilet are clear to see, as we are still removing thousands of sewer blockages from our network every month and continue to see this waste ending up on our beaches”.
“Our message is simple: only the 3 Ps, pee, poo and paper should be flushed down the toilet. All other items including wipes and other sanitary products should go in the bin even if they are labelled as flushable. 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. We have all witnessed the love story unfold between the public and swimming whether that be at piers, beaches, lakes or rivers. 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.”
Speaking about the campaign, Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts said: “The Think Before You Flush campaign, through education and awareness, aims to prevent items like wipes, cotton bud sticks and sanitary items washing up on Ireland’s spectacular beaches. While we have seen a positive improvement in the nations flushing behaviour since 2018, one in five adults still admit to regularly flushing unsuitable items down the toilet. By making small changes in our flushing behaviour, we can prevent the harm caused by sewage related litter in our marine environment. We are asking everybody to only flush the 3 P’s – pee, poo and paper, and put everything else in the bin.”