Clean Coasts partnered with Irish Water, for the second year running, launch the ‘Think Before You Flush’ Community Initiative. This programme aims to tackle the problems sanitary products can cause our waste water network and marine environment if flushed down the toilet.
As part of the Initiative, educational workshops for schools and businesses as well as community information events will be held to raise awareness of sewage related littering and change poor flushing behaviour.
In 2015, the ‘Think Before You Flush’ campaign focused on a community initiative in Galway City. Due to its great success this year 8 more communities from across the country are now actively involved. These communities will work with Clean Coasts and Irish Water to increase awareness of sewage related litter.
The ‘Think Before You Flush’ Communities for 2017 are:
1. Galway City
2. Balbriggan, Dublin
3. Ballycotton, Cork
4. Birr, Offaly
5. Wexford Town, Wexford
6. Dingle, Kerry
7. Bettystown, Meath
8. Virginia, Cavan
9. Tramore, Waterford
Sanitary items such as cotton bud sticks, face/baby wipes and those items we term as our ‘Dirty Dozen’ should not be flushed down the toilet, entering our waste water treatment network, which is unable to deal with this type of waste. In a study of over 1000 Irish people, a shocking 3 in 10 admitted to flushing such items down the toilet. Of these, 58% admitted to flushing baby wipes down the toilet, 40% facial wipes, 26% cotton bud sticks, 24% tampons and 21% cigarette butts. More than half of those who flush these items down the toilet did so simply due to a lack of knowledge. Sewage related litter is one of the largest categories of litter found on our beaches and is considered to be the most offensive.
90% of those surveyed agreed that seeing sewage related litter during a visit to the beach would disgust them while 84% of those surveyed agreed that if they knew that the items flushed down the toilet could end up being discharged into the ocean and could pollute our coastline and cause potential health risks they would not dispose of items in this way. This type of marine litter is totally preventable by simply changing our flushing behaviour.
Speaking about the expansion of the Think Before You Flush initiative to 9 Communities Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager, An Taisce said, “The Think Before You Flush campaign increases education and awareness about sewage related litter, enabling people to realise the consequence of their simple bathroom routine, and preventing items like cotton bud sticks washing up on Ireland’s spectacular beaches.”
Grainne Carey, Regional Information Specialist, Irish Water said, “By making small changes in our flushing behaviour we can prevent the harm caused by sewage related litter in the marine environment. Irish Water is investing significantly in improvements to wastewater infrastructure across the country and by partnering with Clean Coasts and local communities around the country we aim to develop an holistic approach to ensure our beaches and other receiving waters, are safe and protected.’'