There is already an estimated 150 million metric tons of plastic circulating our oceans, with approximately 8 million metric tons added each year. However, there is an easy way we can all minimise our impact on the ocean’s level of plastic, and it may be as simple as thinking before we flush the toilet.
Litter that is flushed down the toilet is estimated to contribute 7% to the oceans plastic count. That’s equivalent to 10.5 million metric tons, and it’s constantly rising. Results from a survey conducted by UKDN Waterflow, found that people are flushing all sorts. The main offenders being:
Not only do these items release harmful chemicals, they are also often eaten by the animals, as they are mistaken for food. The survey also showed that 3.9% of people had flushed their mobile phone and 3.3% of people had had even flushed their late hamster!
However, this isn’t the only consequence of the UK’s daily flushing habits. The survey also showed that at least one in four people in the UK pour cooking oil down the drain and almost half of people pour sauces. FOGs (fat, oil and greases), wet wipes and more, are all contributing to the evolving fatbergs that lurk beneath our cities. The FOGs solidify as the temperature changes, forming the fatberg. The fatberg then gets larger and larger as items continue to be flushed. Water and human waste is then unable to pass, risking the chance of overflowing sewage. These fatbergs cost millions to clear each year, with the famous 250 metre long Whitechapel fatberg costing approximately £9m and taking 9 weeks to clear.
The only way to reduce the risk of fatbergs and the increasing rise of litter in the ocean is to stop flushing items that shouldn’t go down the toilet. The only things that the UK should be flushing is toilet paper and the obvious number 1 and 2. Everything else should be disposed safely in the bin. In the kitchen, anything on plates, pots and pans should be cleared in the bin before going in the sink or dishwasher.
Drain pollution is easily avoidable. Following these tips will save millions of pounds for residents, property owners and the government! It will also reduce plastic pollution in the ocean as well as marine life.
Written by Jennifer Connelly.
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