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Do you know what to flush and what not to flush down the toilet?

UKDN, water and wastewater specialists, recently carried out some research into the UK’s flushing habits, and whilst 93.9% of people surveyed felt confident knowing what you should and shouldn’t flush down the toilet, the results of what people actually flush down the toilet is shocking.

Hamsters anyone…?

Find out more after the jump:

UKDN first asked 500 people what they had ever flushed down the toilet.  Let’s take a look at the results – you may be surprised:

Whilst lots of these look accidental – you wouldn’t willingly flush your keys, phone, purse or wedding ring down the toilet, I’m a little concerned about the 3.3% of people who have flushed hamsters down the toilet.  And let’s not even talk about underwear…

Let’s talk about flushing medicines (and illegal drugs) though.  Flushing these items can have severe implications for the environment – from causing starlings to feed less to reducing fish population sizes.  The best place for unused medicines is to always take them back to the chemist.  They won’t be reused by anyone else but they will be disposed of safely.  Wasted or unused medicine is a big problem within the NHS. It is estimated that as much as £300million is wasted every year on unused or partially used medication which cannot be recycled or re-used.  A campaign called Only Order What You Need, working with the NHS, asks people to think carefully before ordering repeat prescriptions to help avoid this wastage.

It gets worse though, UKDN then asked what items people regularly flush or pour down their toilet:

Whilst hair is the biggest offender of items regularly flushed (it’s actually best to compost hair) it’s most worrying to see wet wipes being the next most popular item to be flushed.  Wet wipes are behind 93% of blockages in UK sewers, and contribute massively towards fatbergs – the giant obstacles that block sewere and have growing health and environmental problems.

Wet wipes aren’t the only environmental disaster to be flushed down the toilet though.  From sanitary towels to nappies, from condoms to cigarette butts, and everything in between, the official advice is that none of the items on this list should be flushed down the toilet.  All of these items can lead to the pollution of beaches and rivers, with items travelling from the toilet through the sewage system and into the marine environment.  If it’s not a bodily fluid, and if it’s not toilet paper then the advice is don’t flush it!

Meanwhile, it’s not a happier tale in the kitchen either, with all sorts of things being poured down the kitchen sink:

Whilst not necessarily terrible for the environment, these fats, oils and greases can solidify in your pipeworks, causing blockages.

Have you ever accidentally, or otherwise, flushed something down the toilet?  I have strong memories from being a kid of standing soggy eyed by the toilet, whilst my parents flushed my dead goldfish down the toilet, telling me the dead fish was going to join its friends for a swim…   Of course, the advice now is that you shouldn’t flush dead fish down the toilet but we didn’t know this at the time…