Why You Shouldn’t Flush Baby Wipes
Our love of all things quick and convenient has meant that the popularity of disposable wet wipes has grown exponentially over recent years.
Once primarily used for changing nappies, wet wipes have now found their way into many other areas of our daily routine including cleaning, using the toilet and removing makeup.
Many people give little thought to the consequences of using so many disposable wipes, and confusing labelling by manufacturers leads people to believe that certain types of wipe are ok to flush.
Whilst some wipes clearly state that they should not be flushed, others are misleadingly marketed as biodegradable or ‘flushable’ when they can still cause blockages and plastic pollution if flushed.
The key problems caused by flushing disposable wipes are:
Blocked plumbing and sewage
According to an article in The Guardian last year, a report by Water UK found that wet wipes make up 93% of UK sewer blockages. Even wipes marked as biodegradable don’t usually biodegrade quickly enough to avoid causing a blockage. Remember London’s infamous ‘fatberg’? Wet wipes played a big part in its creation. When wet wipes become stuck in our sewers, globules of fat stick to them and then all kinds of other things get caught up in the mass too.
Whether it’s money out of your own pocket to unblock your home’s pipes, or out of the water utility’s for a blockage in the public sewers or drains, unblocking pipes can be an expensive business. As a country we are now shelling out over £100m a year on blockages that are primarily caused by our love affair with disposable wet wipes.
Many people don’t realise that disposable wipes contain plastic. The blockages they cause in our sewers causes overflow into our seas and other waterways, taking lots more plastic with it. When wet wipes do eventually break down, they often break down into microplastics that are ingested by river and sea wildlife and then enter our food chain.
Wet wipes have become such a problem the government are hoping to ban them as part of a crackdown on damaging disposable plastic. Think before you flush to help tackle this environmental problem to prevent it becoming even more expensive and damaging.