It’s Unblocktober, a campaign to rid our sewers of the unflushables which cause blockages and pollution. Collette Parker from Anglian Water’s Keep It Clear team talks about the unmentionables…
Okay, most folk wouldn’t mistake a bin for a toilet. Can you imagine it if they did? Yet why do some mistake a loo for a bin? Wipes, tampons, pads, nappies, and incontinence pads should all be binned and yet we find them flushed down the pan, day after day causing blockages in our pipes and choking the life out of our pumps. If they make it far enough, some come riding in on the crest of a used water wave into our water recycling centres. Once removed they fill up our skips which have to be transported to landfill. A recent commentator on our outreach programme said: “The best thing anyone can do is make sure there is a bin next to every toilet”. Let’s also now break the taboo once and for all and start talking openly about periods – half of the population has them after all. We understand some may find this difficult, but this is not a gender issue, so please keep reading even if you don’t personally have a period.
Our survey said – 72 per cent of people use disposable wipes and 41 per cent of tampon users are flushing them instead of putting them in the bin. According to the environmental charity City to Sea, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million pads are flushed every day. They combine with wipes, fat and other unflushables to cause 80 per cent of our blockages and contribute significantly to pollution incidents. We can make it easier for everyone if we take the simple measure of always making sure there is a bin by the toilet.
Call me bombastic, single plastic’s not fantastic – as a company, we have pledged to help rid our region of plastic – items such as bottles, bags, and a host of other single-use items. 42 per cent of people don’t realise that wipes contain plastic fibres too. Some sanitary products contain up to 90 per cent plastic, and a box of sanitary pads contains the equivalent of five plastic bags!
Ditch the disposables – so what alternatives are there, for those who use disposable wipes and sanitary products? There are plenty:
Reusable wipes and cloths
Reusable pads and pants
Menstrual cups The Women’s Environmental Network has lots of information, visit their website for more details.
Feeling flushed - All we want is the 3Ps: poo, pee, and paper (toilet paper) down the loo. It is quite simple, just look for the Do Not Flush logo on products, which all responsible manufacturers should include on their packaging. Also look out for the Fine to Flush logo, these are the only products that pass stringent water industry approved tests and break up when they are flushed.
Period products are not something we talk about in every day, but as you can see they can have a big impact on our environment. So why not have that conversation with a friend or family member, and let’s make sure ours is a region of binners, not flushers!
Collette Parker, Outreach and Community Engagement Manager, Keep it Clear Programme.