What are Unflushables?
Unflushables are items which can cause blockages, flooding and overflows in sewers if flushed down the toilet. Many of these products contain plastic, meaning they do not disintegrate like toilet paper. Unless these items are disposed of properly, they can make their way through the system, and end up polluting rivers, seas, and beaches.
They include items such as:
- Wet wipes… even wet wipes which are labelled as ‘flushable’ can still result in blockages!
- Cotton buds…these are so small, they can easily end up in the sea if flushed.
- Period products…1-2 billion period products are flushed in the UK every year!
- Nappies and incontinence pads… along with period products, these have a high plastic content and therefore could take hundreds of years to break down.
- Tooth floss… floss can easily get tangled up and add to blockages in pipes.
These items are all things that we definitely don’t want to end up on our beaches! So, have a look at what you can do to help.
What can we do?
- Only flush the 3P’s: paper, poo and pee. Make sure you have bins in all of your bathrooms so that unflushables can be disposed of easily.
- Consider using plastic-free period products. For more information, have a look at this guide from City to Sea https://www.citytosea.org.uk/campaign/plastic-free-periods/
- Switch to reusable nappies – City to Sea have another great guide for this https://www.citytosea.org.uk/reusable-nappies/
- Try to use cotton buds that have paper sticks instead of plastic ones.
Campaigns and Resources:
- Through our Business Award Scheme we are encouraging local businesses, such as cafes and hotels, to consider their own impact on marine litter and water quality. As part of this award, businesses display signs in their toilets to remind people to only flush the 3Ps, as well making sure bathroom bins are provided to ensure proper disposal of waste. You can find out more about the award here.
The City to Sea website has lots of information on Unflushables.