Save Your Pipes: Don’t Flush Baby Wipes

March 30, 2016

Featured

Maine’s “Save Your Pipes: Don’t Flush Baby Wipes” campaign raises awareness about the environmental and economic effects of flushing baby wipes. Photo courtesy of Aubrey L. Strause, owner of Verdant Water PLLC (Scarborough, Maine) and 2014 president of the the Maine Water Environment Association.

Maine’s “Save Your Pipes: Don’t Flush Baby Wipes” campaign raises awareness about the environmental and economic effects of flushing baby wipes. Photo courtesy of Aubrey L. Strause, owner of Verdant Water PLLC (Scarborough, Maine) and 2014 president of the the Maine Water Environment Association.

Last year, the Maine Water Environment Association (Augusta), in a joint effort with the Portland (Maine) Water District and the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (Cary, N.C.), created two humorous videos depicting a wacky, mock game show called “What the Flush?!?” to call attention to what should and shouldn’t be flushed down toilets.

The videos were created as part of the “Save Your Pipes: Don’t Flush Baby Wipes” campaign, which was launched to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of flushing baby wipes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) New England Region honored the campaign with its Environmental Merit Award.

Stopper the unflushable is the Portland Water District mascot that conveys the message that some wipes and moist towelettes accumulate in wastewater treatment systems. Photo courtesy of Michelle Clements, Portland Water District.

Stopper the unflushable is the Portland Water District mascot that conveys the message that some wipes and moist towelettes accumulate in wastewater treatment systems. Photo courtesy of Michelle Clements, Portland Water District.

“Our videos addressed two audiences — parents of children of potty-training age, and middle-aged men — since these two types of consumers are believed to use baby wipes in a bathroom setting and flush them more frequently than other consumers,” said Aubrey Strause, owner of Verdant Water PLLC (Scarborough, Maine) and the 2014 president of the Maine Water Environment Association.

The Portland Water District also created a mascot named Stopper the unflushable. Stopper, a cylinder-shaped wipe dispenser with a face, arms, and legs, helps convey a message to the public that some cleaning wipes, baby wipes, and other moist towelettes labeled as “flushable” do not dissolve and will accumulate in the wastewater treatment system, causing clogs and backups.

— Jeff Gunderson, WEF Highlights

WEF Highlights Showcases Flushables Outreach Efforts

As the nondispersibles issue continues to grow, utilities are turning to humor and lighthearted messages to educate the public. In the footsteps of the Singing Sewermen from Thames Water (London), utilities are creating unique and humorous public service announcements (PSAs) and campaigns to educate the public about what can and cannot go down the drain or toilet.

Find WEF Highlights articles featuring these efforts by searching for the keyword FlushablePSA. Have a unique flushable PSA to share? Send it to Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights editor, at jfulcher@wef.org.

 

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