Clean Coasts and Irish Water promoting simple actions to protect Sligo’s environment at Wild Roots festival

02 June 2022

This weekend, June 2 – 5, Clean Coasts and Irish Water will be at Wild Roots festival urging attendees to make small changes while on holidays or at home that will have a big impact on our environment. Think Before You Flush and Think Before You Pour are public awareness campaigns operated by Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water.

Wild Roots is an art, music and adventure festival taking place for the first time on the 2nd – 5th June set in the stunning Hazelwood area, protected by ancient woodland and close to the tranquil waters of Lough Gill. As well as performances from international and local acts, there will be stand up paddle boarding, kayak tours, sailing and boat tours on Lough Gill. The Think Before You Flush campaign will be at the Shop Street area - come by for a chance to win some prizes and for more information on protecting our environment from your own home.

Speaking about the campaign, Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager, Clean Coasts said: "We are delighted to be at Wild Roots this year asking people to make small changes in the bathroom and kitchen that have a positive impact on our natural environment. Our message is simple yet powerful and one that everyone can engage with: only flush the 3 P’s – pee, paper and poo – down the loo and dispose of FOGs from cooking in the bin rather than down the sink."

Speaking about the size and scale of the issue Tom Cuddy, Head of Operations, Irish Water said: “Simple actions when on holiday or at home can reduce the number of wastewater blockages backing up into houses and gardens or spilling into the local environment. As part of the Wild Roots festival this weekend, we want to remind the public whether living or staying over in Sligo to be mindful of how you dispose of items down the toilet and sink. ‘Think Before You Flush’ and dispose of all bathroom waste in a bin (other than pee, poo and paper which can be flushed down the toilet). Similarly, when barbequing or in the kitchen, ‘Think Before You Pour’ and use a heat proof container to collect fats, oils and greases (FOGs) and put them in the bin once they have cooled. These two simple actions will help prevent pipe blockages and protect the natural and built environment. Last year we responded to approximately 10,000 customer notified blockages along the wastewater network which were leading to sewer overflows. Let’s work together and keep our pipes free-flowing and Sligo’s beautiful environment clean.

Think Before You Flush addresses the issue of flushing unsuitable items down the toilet and highlights the consequences of doing so, such as blockages in our wastewater network and treatment plants, surface water overflows and sewage related litter on our beaches and in our oceans, damaging 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; tampons; food items; contact lenses; condoms; cigarette butts; and cotton bud sticks.

There is no denying these items are incredibly useful. Many people love the convenience of disposable makeup remover wipes, facial pads and dental floss but are unaware of the problems associated with these items when inappropriately flushed down the toilet. Research has found that one in four adults (24%) regularly admit to flushing items down the toilet that are known to cause blockages, causing detrimental effects on the wastewater network and the marine environment. Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to disintegrate quickly in our pipes and sewage systems, other items don’t break down easily.

Furthermore, when fats, oils and greases (FOGs) from cooking are poured down the kitchen sink, they cool and harden as they travel along the wastewater network. When FOGs combine with wipes and other sewage related litter such as hair and dental floss that shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet, fatbergs can form. Irish Water clears hundreds of blockages including fatbergs from the wastewater network every week. Think Before You Pour appeals to the public not to pour FOGs down the kitchen sink, as a survey reveals that approximately 4 out of 10 people admit to doing so.

What can you do?

In the bathroom:

  • Put a bin in your bathroom. You can also download some of our Think Before You Flush printable resources and stick them up as a reminder.
  • Switch to reusable options – items like facial cloths and reusable cotton pads are great alternatives.

In the kitchen:

  • Pour FOGs into a heatproof container (jar, tin, egg carton), allow to cool and empty into a bin (food waste recycling bin if you have one, otherwise the general waste bin. Note: FOGs are not suitable for home composting).
  • Wipe and scrape plates and saucepans before washing.
  • Use a strainer in your kitchen sink, and empty into the bin.

Join the campaign at https://thinkbeforeyouflush.org/ and follow @CleanCoasts on social media.