Research Exposes Our Terrible Flushing Habits that are Turning into Fatbergs

Reader submission. Please read as contains good advice!

With the largest plastic epidemic hitting our oceans, it’s more important than ever to find new and easy ways to reduce our impact on the environment. Items we flush down the toilet accounts for 7% of the ocean’s rising plastic count and contributes to the fatbergs growing in our sewers. Therefore being conscious of what we’re flushing down the loo is more important than ever.

New survey results by water and waste management company UKDN, has unveiled the UK’s daily flushing habits – and they aren’t pretty! Although 94% of people were confident about the items that can and can’t be flushed or poured down the drain – the results showed that this was not the case. 14.1% of people flush their wet wipes and 10.6% discard their tampons and applicators down the loo. More surprisingly, 4.7% discard their condoms, 3.7% their cigarette buds and 3.9% of people had even flushed illegal drugs down the toilet!

All these items release toxic and harmful chemicals directly into our waterways, rivers and oceans. Flushing anything that shouldn’t be flushed also increases the risk of blocked drains and disgusting fatbergs.

Fatbergs are formed by mainly FOGs (fat, oil and greases) and anything else that shouldn’t be flushed. It’s easy to see why fatbergs are on the rise as a huge 43.5% of people admitted to discarding their sauces in the sink, while 24.7% pour cooking oil and 22.3% pour meat fat down the drain.

When you originally pour oil or any other FOG down the drain it appears to be liquid and not pose an issue. However, FOGs harden as the sewer temperature is much lower. Once the hardened FOGs are combined with items such as wet wipes, tampons and floss – they form into a mass congealed lump. As the fatberg gets larger due to items continuously being flushed – both water and human waste is then unable to pass, risking the chance of overflowing sewage in our cities.

These fatbergs can be incredibly expensive, with the famous Whitechapel fatberg costing approximately £9million and taking 9 weeks to fully clear. So with all this information in mind, what can you do to cut down your own contribution to both drain and plastic pollution?

To reduce the plastic in our oceans and the risk of a disgusting fatberg appearing on your street – the only thing we should be flushing are the three Ps – pee, poo and paper. Everything else should be safely discarded in the bin. This includes even the smallest of items such as hair and dental floss!

If you’ve just rustled up an amazing meal in the kitchen, make sure you pour any FOGs, sauces and food in the bin before putting your dishes in the sink. Using a plug strainer in your kitchen sink and bath can also minimise the chance of food and hair getting into your pipes.

These small changes make a huge difference to your environmental impact. And by adopting these good habits, you can ensure you are contributing to cleaner oceans and fatberg free drains.

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