The Unflushables

What’s the problem?

Fats, oils and greases poured down sinks and wet wipes, sanitary products, cotton buds and nappies flushed down toilets are causing blockages that could easily be avoided.

Fats, oils and greases poured down sinks and wet wipes, sanitary products, cotton buds and nappies flushed down toilets are causing blockages that could easily be avoided.

Rivers are being polluted by sewage that has been forced into the waterway from avoidable blockages in sinks, toilets and drains of London homes.

The disposal of ‘non- flushable items’ down household sinks and toilets is a serious issue.

When doing clean-ups on the foreshore of the Thames and its tributaries, the number of wet wipes and sanitary items we find on the river bed and foreshores is utterly astonishing.

Aside from the environmental toll, these blockages push up water costs and cause problems for many households, yet the solution is in our hands.


What can you do?

Join The Unflushables campaign and take these steps to prevent these blockages:

In the kitchen, allow fats and oils to cool and then:

  • Pour used cooking oil into a sealed container and semi-solid fat or greasy food scraps in newspaper – then put in the bin
  • Use a sink strainer to stop the smaller food scraps you might rinse off your plate from entering the sewer via your sink

In the bathroom, only the three ‘Ps’: pee, poo and [toilet] paper, should go down the loo!

  • Put all wet wipes, sanitary products, cotton bud sticks, cotton wool and nappies in the bin, including products claiming to be flushable since they often contain plastic.

unflushables title

The Unflushables campaign is currently focusing efforts on the TW2 postcode. This area, which includes Twickenham, Whitton and Strawberry Hill, has a high number of blockages, but 90% can be prevented by simple lifestyle changes by residents.


What impact will this have?

These changes may sound simple, but they can make a big difference to our rivers; particularly to the Thames. By reducing the number of blockages and products finding their way into our natural environment, we can significantly improve the health of our rivers and alleviate the inconvenience caused by blockages.


Get involved

Support The Unflushables campaign by adopting the simple actions above, and help us spread the word by:

  • Putting up posters in your local community
  • Inviting our team to give a talk about the issue at your community group or residents’ association
  • Educating children (specifically in the Twickenham and Whitton areas) by inviting us to deliver our schools programme. This specially designed programme teaches youngsters about river guardianship and how we all have a role to play in making our natural world a healthier place.

Please contact AJ McConville via email at aj.mcconville@thames21.org.uk for further information.

The Unflushables is a joint campaign by Your Tidal Thames, which Thames21 is a partner of. More information about the work of Your Tidal Thames can be found here.