Last week’s World Toilet Day highlighted why none of us in the UK should ever take for granted good sanitation. In this blog our sewer expert Steve Grebby explains why we should love our loo by taking extra care over what we flush down it.
Where would you go if you didn’t have your loo? Would you squat in the back yard? Maybe walk down to the nearest woods? Imagine doing that in the middle of a freezing cold night. Unfortunately this is the bleak choice that 2.4 billion people in the poorest corners of the world are faced with every day.
Last week World Toilet Day once again highlighted how poor sanitation can have a devastating impact on people’s lives. Toilets protect people’s safety and dignity, as well as shielding us from serious diseases.
Of course in the UK the vast majority of us are fortunate to enjoy good sanitation – but the problems don’t just go away once a toilet is installed. Every year thousands of people experience the misery of sewer flooding because of blockages in our drains and sewers. Often these are caused by people flushing inappropriate items down the toilet.
Wet wipes are a big problem as they do not break up and when cooking fats and grease are poured down the sink, they gather in the sewerage system like the fat in our own arteries. This murky mixture is a recipe for disaster that can lead to blocked pipes and ‘fatbergs’ that clog up our sewer network.
Every year, sewerage companies spend over £80 million clearing up these blockages and roughly 366,000 of these are caused by items like wet wipes that have no place in our sewers. Ultimately it’s customers who foot the bill.
So here’s a reminder of what you can safely flush down the loo or pour down the sink:
ONLY FLUSH THE 3 Ps – Pee, Poo and toilet Paper – down your loo.
BAG AND BIN THE REST – this includes wet wipes, nappy and so-called ‘flushable’ wipes, nappies and pads, cotton buds, tissues, plastic bags and wrappers, sanitary towels, plasters and chewing gum.
USE A FAT TRAP to collect waste cooking fats, oils and greases instead of pouring them down the drain. Many water companies will provide you with one free of charge. Small amounts of fats, oils and grease can be cooled and scraped into a container or newspaper before being thrown in the bin.
If you would like to make a donation to help people whose lives are threatened by poor sanitation we would suggest visiting the WaterAid website http://www.wateraid.org/