Unflushables

It’s time to talk toilets

The hidden plastic we’re flushing down the pan

Did you know that wet wipes, period products, nappies, tooth-floss and cotton buds can all contain plastic?  Any time you flush something down the loo, someone or something has to remove it in order for us to access clean drinking water. Or it ends up as a very toxic dinner for some poor sea creature. We’re literally flushing the health of our oceans down the toilet.

But fear not, we’re here to raise awareness of the issue and connect our actions to our oceans -from bathroom to beach.

6.2% of all beach litter in the UK are items that have been flushed down the loo when they should have gone in the bin.

93% of fatbergs are actually made from wet wipes, compared to 0.5% fat. We hereby rename them ‘wet-wipe-monsters’!

Every year it costs around £100 million to clear blocked UK drains and sewer pipes. And guess who picks up this cost? You, me and Bob, through our water bills!

THE WORST OFFENDERS

The items below are some of the most common items of plastic pollution found on our beaches. If you ask us, there isn’t a single one we’d be happy to see whilst frolicking along the strandline.

These items are sometimes referred to as ‘The Unflushables’ or included in the ‘Dirty Dozen’ by the water and waste industries. Although the ‘The Unflushables’ may sound like a team of superheroes, they are far from it! Click below to find out why none of these items should be flushed down the bog.

Cotton Buds

Cotton buds have been in the top 10 items of beach litter in the UK for the last 25 years! Being so small they can squeeze through sewage filters if flushed and end up lining our rivers and beaches. We successfully got retailers to switch from plastic to paper with our campaign Switch the Stick in 2017.

WET WIPES

The number of wet wipes found on UK beaches has increased by more than 700% in the last decade. Yuck. Whether you’re using wipes to take your make-up off, change your babies nappy or for a ‘posh poo’, we beg you to ‘Be a Good A**hole’ and keep them away from the toilet bowl. Learn more here.

Period products

A big-brand pack of 14 period pads contains the same amount of plastic as 5 carrier bags! You wouldn’t flush plastic bags down the toilet, so why are we flushing 1-2 billion period products every year in the UK? There is a better way! Find out how to have a plastic-free period that’s better for your body, your wallet and the ocean.

Nappies

When little family members are potty training they will use on average 5,000 nappies, all destined for the bin or (hopefully not!) the toilet. In their place you could use just 15 reusable nappies. Could washable nappies save the day? More on plastic-free parenting here.

INCONTINENCE PADS

Believe it or not, 5-10% of the UK population experience some form of bladder incontinence. You’re not the only one who does a little wee when you laugh at our brilliant jokes! Big-brand disposable incontinence pads and pants have a high plastic content and could take up to 500 years to break down. Find out more here.

Contact lenses

Contact lenses are often made from a mixture of acrylic glass, silicones and fluoropolymers (plastic). One US study found that 14 billion lenses – 200,000 kg of plastic waste – was being thrown away every year. Make sure they always go in the bin, not the loo!

TOOTH-FLOSS

Long, stringy items like tooth-floss and hair very easily tangle and contribute to ‘fatbergs’ that block our sewers. Most tooth-floss contains plastic but there are some on the market that don’t, like this one!

 

Cigarettes

These pesky little butts are full of toxic chemicals and the filters contain plastic. Wastewater plants can’t deal with these so both the toxins and plastic end up in our rivers and seas. If you want clean seas (and you don’t want your house to burn down!) always chuck these in a metal container.

WHAT CAN I DO TO STOP FLUSHED PLASTIC POLLUTION?

ONLY FLUSH THE 3P’S: PAPER, POO AND PEE

Put an extra bin in your bathroom so binning is just as easy as flushing. 

If you have space, why not have a little bin for recycling as well? 

Keep our seas plastic free. Only flush paper, poo and pee!  

TALK ABOUT TOILETS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Watch and share our short video Toilet Training for Adults to see how we took to the streets with a toilet to spread the word about flushed plastic!  

OUR UNFLUSHABLES CAMPAIGNS

We’re campaigning to tackle the most commonly found single-use plastic on UK beaches –  a big chunk of this comes from flushed plastic so we’ve been running campaigns on the issue for years. We’ve got pretty good at toilet training for adults!

Be a good a**hole

We teamed up with Lord of the Rings star, Andy Serkis for our Be a Good A**hole film to raise awareness of the issue. It’s been viewed millions of times online and was screened at cinemas across the country, spreading the word about binning your wet wipes. Find out more about wet wipes, the Fine to Flush standard and how to Be a Good A**hole here!

switch the stick

In 2016 we launched a petition calling on UK retailers to ‘Switch the stick’ from plastic to paper. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl, Superdrug, Boots UK and Wilko all pledged to make the change saving a whopping 478 tonnes of plastic from being produced every year. Find out how we did it here.

PLASTIC-FREE PERIODS

Want to have a period that is better for your body, better for the planet and better for your bank account? We think that whoever you are, wherever you live, you should have the choice to go plastic-free with your period. If you’re thinking of making the switch, you’ve come to the right place!

Get a copy of our printable toilet cubicle poster

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