Before You Flush
FLUSHING unsuitable items
like wipes down the toilet can have huge implications
for our wastewater systems and damage our local
environment. As part of the Think Before You Flush
campaign in Buncrana; B&Bs, hotels, gyms, cafés,
restaurants and many other businesses have received
information and resources in an
effort to raise awareness locally.
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, surface water
overflows and sewage related litter impacting rivers,
beaches and oceans.
Many toiletries, such as 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 wipes and
cotton pads but are unaware of the problems associated
with these items when inappropriately flushed down the
toilet. Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to
disintegrate quickly in our pipes and sewage systems,
other items don’t break down easily.
Furthermore, when fats, oils and greases (FOGs) from
cooking are poured down the kitchen sink, they cool and
harden as they travel along the wastewater network. When
FOGs combine with wipes and other sewage related litter
such as hair and dental floss that shouldn’t be flushed
down the toilet, fatbergs can form. Irish Water clears
hundreds of blockages including fatbergs from the
wastewater network every week.
Think Before You Flush:
Image on the left shows an 8ft blockage at a pump
This Summer, the Think
Before You Flush campaign has rolled out an education
and awareness campaign in Buncrana 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 per year.
Speaking about the campaign Sinead McCoy, Coastal
Communities Manager, Clean Coasts, said: “We're
delighted to engage with businesses in Buncrana to
remind people to ‘Think Before You Flush’. The aim of
the campaign is to create positive behavioural change
and raise awareness about the impact sewage related
litter has on our environment and wastewater network. We
hope the business and community in Buncrana will join us
in raising awareness by displaying these resources and
help spread this important message."
As part of the campaign in Buncrana, the Think Before
You Flush campaign are offering a range information resources including posters,
information leaflets, and infographics that can be
displayed in homes, businesses, clubs or community
For more information visit