Cotton bud sticks found during a beach clean.

Break up with plastic

An environmental protection group is calling on the people of Cork to ditch single-use plastic toiletries and find a better match this Valentine’s Day.

For the 6th year running, Clean Coasts and local sustainable businesses are asking people in the Rebel County to #BreakUpWithPlastic this 14 February and switch to sustainable, reusable alternatives.

This year, the focus is on the bathroom and the Think Before You Flush campaign, which is operated by Clean Coasts in partnership with Uisce Éireann.

The campaign highlights the issue of flushing unsuitable items down the toilet and the consequences of doing so, such as blockages in the wastewater network and in treatment plants; surface water overflows; and sewage related litter in rivers, on beaches and in oceans, damaging the marine environment.

Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts, said: “As we know, single use plastic is an immense waste issue that creates a vast array of issues for our world, so a move to more sustainable and reusable items can have a real positive impact on the world around us.

“We realise it can be difficult to make the break from single use, so for anybody starting the journey towards new, reusable, long-lasting loves, we have tips and hints on our website to get you started.”

Talking about the size and scale of the problem associated with flushing the wrong things down the toilet, Tom Cuddy, Uisce Éireann said: “Recent studies have found that 2 out of 10 people admit to flushing inappropriate items down the toilet such as wipes, dental floss, tampons, cotton buds, cigarette butts. It is no surprise therefore that we are clearing thousands of blockages from our wastewater network every year, a significant proportion of which are caused by wipes.”

Learn more about the Think Before You Flush campaign at