This International Women’s Day, the Think Before You Flush Campaign is celebrating women who are leading the fight against sewage-related litter that pollutes our oceans and damages our wastewater systems.
The Think Before You Flush campaign aims to highlight the impact of sanitary waste has on our natural and marine environment. It is run by Clean Coasts, a charity programme, run through the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce, which engages communities in the protection of Ireland’s beaches, seas and marine life, in partnership with Irish Water.
Today a series of interviews will be launched on the Clean Coasts social media channels, featuring interviews with four trailblazing Irish women who are tackling the problem of sewage-related litter and the single-use products that cause it. They’ll be sharing their journeys to date, what inspires them in their work, and sharing their advice for other women who want to take action.
Featuring Corkwoman Eileen Greene, Company Director at Mooncup. Eileen, originally from County Cork, is a true sustainability pioneer. Driven by her passion for environmental issues, she joined Mooncup Ltd in 2004.
As one of the founding members of the team she has contributed to the success of the world’s first silicone menstrual cup and the positive shift in the conversation around periods and re-usable products. Mooncup have seen an 165% increase in Irish sales over the past year, predominantly in the 18-24 year-old demographic.
Sheelin Conlon is an Entrepreneur who set up sustainable lifestyle store The Kind in 2018, after seeing first-hand the environmental devastation caused by plastic pollution while living in Asia.
The Kind curates beautifully designed, sustainable and ethically made goods that are both kind to you and kind to the planet and have recently opened a store on Dublin’s Fade St (which is closed under Level 5 restrictions). Sheelin stocks a huge range of reusable and plastic-free alternatives to some of the most commonly flushed single-use items.
Jean Hobbs is Project Manager for the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade with Irish Water. Every single month, Irish Water clear in the region of 2,000 blockages from our wastewater systems. About 75 percent of these blockages are caused by inappropriate items such as wipes and sanitary products being flushed down the toilet.
Jean sees first-hand the impact of this at the Ringsend plant, which sees over 60 tonnes of wipes, sanitary products and other non-flushable items removed from the screens at the plant every month. Jean is project managing the upgrade of the plant which will be completed in 2025.
Elaine Doyle is Think Before You Flush Campaign Officer at Clean Coasts. Elaine has been working in the environmental sector for over 15 years, with experience ranging from manufacturing engineering to waste management to environmental education. Elaine has been the driving force behind Clean Coasts’ Think Before You Flush campaign since 2016, a behavioural change campaign educating people on what they can and can’t flush down the toilet.
Speaking about the importance of the Think Before You Flush campaign and the Ringsend project, Jean Hobbs said: “Having adequate wastewater treatment infrastructure is essential to safeguard the environment and to facilitate housing and commercial development.
"Irish Water is investing over €500 million in the upgrade of Ringsend wastewater treatment plant, the largest treatment plant in Ireland, treating 40% of Ireland’s wastewater load. The plant is operating over capacity; with average daily loads in the region of 1.9 million population. The upgrade will expand the capacity of plant to 2.4 million and is scheduled to be completed in 2025."
Jean continued: “We all have a role to play in safeguarding our environment and wastewater infrastructure. In Ringsend we remove approximately 60 tonnes of wipes, sanitary products and other items from the screens at the inlet to the wastewater treatment plant every month. It is important to ‘Think Before You Flush’, only the 3 Ps; pee; poo and paper should be flushed down the toilet and everything else should go in the bin!”
More information about the Think Before You Flush campaign can be found at www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org.