Unblocktober 2021: New World, New Habits

Back for its third year in a row, Unblocktober is the annual awareness event which puts fatbergs and the dangers of flushing the wrong thing down the loo under the microscope. At Wave, we’ve consistently supported and got involved in Unblocktober, in 2019 and 2020, and 2021 is no different.

With the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic still looming, the focus of Unblocktober 2021 is “New World, New Habits” and it wants us to take a closer look at how we can emerge from the pandemic with a more sustainable approach to everyday life. Life is slowly returning to normal and our impact on the oceans and waterways around is not something we can afford to ignore.

The history of Unblocktober

Unblocktober was launched in 2019 as the world’s first month-long awareness campaign and national event focused on our drainage systems. Not caring for what we put into our own drains has a significant impact on the wider ecosystem, waterways and seas. Every year more people have got involved with the campaign, with almost 20,000 supporting it last year, and an aim to gain even more support in 2021.

COVID-19 and our drain health

The team behind Unblocktober report an unfortunate increase in unflushable items making their way into our sewer systems, many linked to the increased use of disposables during the pandemic. Improper disposal of rubber gloves, antibacterial wipes and of course, face masks has exacerbated an already considerable problem in the British sewer systems. All of these new unflushable products are contributing to the build-up of fatbergs, as well as contributing to the increased volume of plastics in our oceans.

Unblocktober is a chance to rethink and regroup, consider more sustainable alternatives to the use of disposable items where possible and if not, how to appropriately dispose of items.

Increased awareness must deliver action

Research carried out by Lanes Group, a UK drainage specialist, shows that the general understanding of the problem of fatbergs and plastic waste is increasing. Their most recent 2019 survey found 77% of respondents had heard of fatbergs compared to 47% in 2017. They also found that 62% of their respondents now understand that wet wipes contain hidden plastics, a key finding as flushed wipes are a huge contributor to the microplastics and fatberg problems we now face.

Most crucially when thinking of Unblocktober, Lane’s survey found 64% of respondents consider themselves “very aware” of what should or shouldn’t go down the sink or toilet, but does this translate into action? Less than 20% of their respondents knew that medication, razor blades and contact lenses play a part in drain blockages and it demonstrates the importance of events like Unblocktober to raise awareness to encourage small changes.

Our drains aren’t designed for foodstuff, plastics or grease and oil-based liquids. Take a look at the Unblocktober guidelines and never flush any of these items down the sink and toilet:

  • Cooking oils
  • Butter, margarine and lard
  • Condiments and sauces
  • Food - even crumbs cause blockages
  • Anything containing plastics including:
    • Cleansing wipes
    • Sanitary products - pads, tampons including applicators
    • Nappies
    • Condoms
    • Cotton buds
    • Contact lenses
    • Dental floss
    • Plasters and bandages
    • Razor blades

Wave commits to Unblocktober

At Wave we want our customers to come on board and recognise the importance of keeping their sewers and drains clear of all unwanted and unflushabe goods. Our CEO, Lucy Darch, says:

“We have shown our commitment to Unblocktober since its launch in 2019 and continue to do so. We know more than most about how contaminated our waters can become as we deal in water every single day. We hope our customers can use this month to reflect and raise awareness within their businesses and homes on what’s really supposed to go down the drain.”

Think twice before you flush and consider whether you’re contributing to the problem. You can’t rely on consumer labels or what seems to be common sense, simply stick to the three Ps - pee, poo and toilet paper – going in the loo

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