In 2020 14,500 Britons across the country pledged to change their kitchen and bathroom habits at home and at work. This year we’re getting involved in the hope that we can smash that figure.
There’s no denying that the world’s population has spent decades consistently pouring dangerous liquids and items into our drains, leading to the creation of fatbergs – enormous masses of congealed fat, oil, grease, wet wipes, period care products, cotton buds, condoms, nappies, bandages, discarded facemask, rubber gloves and anything else we’ve decided to flush.
Despite knowing that there is an urgent need to look after our waterways 48% of people willingly continue to put fatberg-forming substances into our sewers.
What not to Flush
- Wet wipes – some manufacturers of baby wipes will often indicate on the packaging that the product is “flushable.” Plumbing experts say there’s no such thing as a flushable wipe. Wet wipes flushed down toilets contribute to more than 90% of sewer blockages in the UK. They take many years to break down and when they do, they can be devastating for wildlife.
- Period products – menstrual pads, towels, tampons, applicators and wrappers. Tampax say “please don’t flush tampons down the toilet”…”Tampons don’t break down in the toilet the same way toilet tissue does; tampons are designed to stay in your vagina for up to eight hours and come out whole. They wouldn’t be an effective period-care product if they broke down so easily in the presence of liquid! Flushing tampons and other period-care products down the toilet can not only clog your pipes, but they can end up in rivers and oceans, harming the environment. Do your part and please don’t flush tampons.” If you’d like to ditch the period waste all together why not get to grips with a menstrual cup?
- Condoms – “Our toilets eventually reach the sea, and anything other than biological organic materials cannot be broken down by nature’s recycling pathways,” says Tom Hird, a marine biologist nicknamed the ‘Blowfish’. Estimates put the amount of time a condom takes to break down at around 30 years. During those 30 years your condom floats around our seas and beaches, and if it doesn’t get washed up on shore, then it is extremely likely to be eaten by an aquatic animal mistaking it for food.
What not to drain
- Cooking oil – Even if you break down the oil with soap and hot water, it can re-solidify once it cools down and cause drain pipes and sewers to get blocked. Instead of pouring the oil down the sink, pour it into a cleaned-out tin, before wiping off the excess with a kitchen towel.
- Food – even crumbs. Pop on the bin and place it in, don’t be tempted to rinse everything down the plug hole.
- Butter – like oil, when temperatures cool butter will solidify once again.
- Cooking sauce – many pasta sauces are high in fat.
You can find a full list of things you shouldn’t flush on unblocktober.org