Think Before You Flush

The theme of a beach clean at Sligo's Strandhill last Tuesday 15 October, organised by Irish Water in partnership with Sligo County Council, was ‘Think Before You Flush’. The aim of the beach clean was to raise awareness about the problems caused by people flushing wet wipes down their toilets.

Every day thousands of sanitary items such as baby wipes and cotton bud sticks are flushed down the toilet instead of simply being put in the bin. Domestic pipes are not designed to carry this type of waste and can easily become blocked. When flushed down the toilet they form a mass and cause blockages in our pipes and sewers, causing waste to flow back and flood homes and gardens. Many of these items end up on our beaches, creating a significant threat to wildlife as seabirds often ingest plastic and sewage related litter, mistaking it for food. 

The beach at Strandhill is a popular location for surfers and walkers and the group gathered a significant amount of rubbish during the clean-up comprising primarily of plastic. However, regular surfers using the beach as well as the local community frequently carry out litter picking which keeps the beach in good condition.

The 3 Ps - pee, poo and toilet paper

Commenting Paul Kilcoyne, Irish Water’s Regional Wastewater Lead for Sligo said “Wet wipes cause blockages of pipes in peoples’ homes and in the public sewer network. They can also end up in the marine environment and pollute our beaches. We are asking the people of Sligo to ‘Think Before They Flush’, and to stop flushing wet wipes down their toilets.

“When the 3 Ps - pee, poo and toilet paper, are flushed down the toilet they travel through your pipes, along the sewer network and into your local wastewater treatment plant. Here the waste is removed and the water cleaned so that it can be safely returned to the sea. Everything else should go in the bin, even wipes that claim to be flushable.” 

‘Think Before You Flush’ is a public awareness campaign about the problems that sanitary products and other items can cause to the plumbing in our homes, our neighbours’ homes, our wastewater network and our marine environment when they are flushed down the toilet. The campaign is operated by An Taisce’s Clean Coasts programme in partnership with Irish Water.

More information

For more information, visit our Think Before You Flush page.


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