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30 Sept 2022

Clean Coasts offering environmental workshops to schools in Dunleer

Bookings for Think Before You Flush workshops are now open to schools in Dunleer

Clean Coasts offering environmental workshops to schools in Dunleer

The Think Before You Flush campaign urges people to never flush damaging items such as wet wipes or cotton buds down the toilet

To mark the new school year, the Think Before You Flush campaign is offering free environmental workshops for classrooms throughout Dunleer. Think Before You Flush is a public awareness campaign operated by Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water. 

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 wet 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. 

The Think Before You Flush campaign is rolling out an education and awareness campaign in Dunleer to highlight the need for locals and visitors to maintain proper flushing and pouring behaviour in the area. Nationally in 2021, Irish Water responded to approximately 10,000 customer notified blockages (approximately 200 every week) and removed 162 tonnes of wipes and other items from the screens at wastewater treatment plants every month – that’s close to 2,000 tonnes/year.  

The schools of Dunleer represent the future of the area’s flushing and pouring behaviour. Through discussions about the environment and the importance of our wastewater management systems, the Think Before You Flush campaign hopes to inspire the next generation to care for our natural environment through good flushing and pouring practices.  

Speaking about the campaign, Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager, Clean Coasts said: "We are delighted to be able to bring the Think Before You Flush campaign to classrooms of Dunleer. 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 everything else goes in the bin." 

Speaking about the workshops being undertaken in Dunleer Tom Cuddy, Irish Water said: “Irish Water is committed to safeguarding the local environment and returning wastewater safely to the environment. Our operational staff in Dunleer have started to experience a significant strain on the wastewater infrastructure due to large volumes of fats, oils and greases, wipes and associated sanitary waste being disposed of incorrectly into our network.  This is resulting in significant operational difficulties for our staff and treatment plants.  

“As part of this education and awareness campaign, we are asking everyone living and visiting Dunleer to be very conscious of the impact their flushing and pouring behaviour can have on their local wastewater networks and treatment plants and would ask that they dispose of FOGs and other products such as wipes and sanitary waste correctly.  

Tom continued: “Irish Water is investing in wastewater infrastructure right across the country. We are building new wastewater treatment plants, upgrading old plants, and laying new sewers. However, it is still really important that both businesses and the wider public don’t dispose of FOGs and sanitary products incorrectly and are aware of the impact of what they dispose of, so the network can function efficiently and effectively and protect the environment.” 

If you would like to enquire about booking a workshop for your class or learn more about the campaign, head over to www.www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org or send on your request to tbyf@eeu.antaisce.org. You can also request information posters for your schools, business, or community. 

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