Clean Coasts and Irish Water urge the people of Galway to ‘Think Before You Flush’

Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water launch the Think Before You Flush Campaign to raise awareness of the problems wet wipes and sanitary products cause when they are flushed down the toilet.

Almost one million adults living in Ireland admit to regularly flushing wet wipes and other sanitary items down the toilet.

Irish Water and Clean Coasts are urging the people of Galway to continue to ‘Think Before You Flush’ as a recent survey has revealed that almost a million adults living in Ireland regularly flush wet wipes and other sanitary items down the toilet. With sea swimming and use of our beaches becoming more popular, it’s a timely reminder that our flushing behaviour has a direct impact on the environment and that making small changes can help protect Ireland’s sandy beaches, rocky shores and secluded bays. 

New Think Before You Flush video featuring Anthony Skeffington, Regional Operations Manager for Irish Water

Speaking about the survey results Shay Walsh, 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. Working in partnership with Clean Coasts on the Think Before You Flush campaign we have made some progress as 24% of respondents in this year’s survey admit to regularly doing so. Whilst this improvement is welcome, 24% represents almost a million people. The impacts of flushing the wrong things down the toilet are stark, as we are still removing thousands of sewer blockages from our network every month. 

“Removing blockages can be a nasty job, sometimes workers have to enter sewers to remove blockages with shovels. Some blockages can be removed with jetting and suction equipment. I’ve seen pump blockages that workers have had to literally clear by hand in order to get the pumps up and running again in a race against time to avoid sewage overflows to the environment. 

“Our message is simple, only the 3 Ps, pee, poo and paper should be flushed down the toilet. All other items including wet 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 seen the images of sea birds being impacted by marine litter and we all have a role to play in protecting our beaches, seas and marine life. A small change in our flushing behaviour can make a big difference – put wipes, cotton bud sticks and sanitary items in the bin and not down the toilet.

Sligo locals feature in video urging those living in and visiting Sligo to Think Before You Flush

Speaking about the size and scale of the challenge, Shay added, “Mutton Island wastewater treatment plant is the largest treatment plant in Galway City. An average of 100 tonnes of wipes and other items are removed from the screens at the plant every year, that is the equivalent of 8 double decker buses of foul material that needs to be disposed of. In addition to that we also clear hundreds of blockages across the wastewater network in Galway City and County every year.” 

Puffins being impacted by flushing behaviour

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 four 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.”

About Think Before You Flush campaign

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. The campaign is operated by Clean Coasts (An Taisce) in partnership with Irish Water.

TBYF is about changing people’s flushing behaviour – like never using the toilet to dispose of items such as nappies / wet wipes / cotton bud sticks / food / plasters etc. Having a bin in the bathroom can help. Think Before You Pour focuses on raising awareness of the issues caused by pouring fats, oils and greases down the drain and provides advice on how to dispose of these correctly.

To find out more about the Think Before You Flush campaign please visit http://thinkbeforeyouflush.org  and for  tips and information on how to avoid blocked drains please visit www.water.ie/thinkbeforeyouflush   

John being environmentally friendly