Lavatory litter louts pose threat to birds and marine life

Cotton buds, cigarettes, plasters and condoms the most common ‘high risk’ items

Leaving the toilet seat up is not the worst domestic habit of the Irish male, a survey by An Taisce has found.

Cotton buds, cigarettes, plasters and condoms are among the most common “high risk” items that men flush down the toilet.

An Taisce’s survey of Irish people’s “flushing” habits has found that over half of those who dispose of cotton buds and other items down the loo are not aware of the negative impact. The survey also found that 84 per cent of those questioned would not do so if they knew that birds and other marine life could mistake cotton buds or condoms or other items for food – with potentially fatal consequences.

Using a bin

The study, involving over 1,000 people, found three in 10 people admitted disposing of “problem” sanitary items in this way, rather than using a bin. Baby wipes were regularly flushed by 58 per cent of respondents, facial wipes by 40 per cent, and cotton buds by 26 per cent, while 24 per cent disposed of tampons and 21 per cent cigarette butts. More than half of those questioned did so due to “lack of knowledge” about the impact.

Some one in four believed, incorrectly, that items such as nappies and dental floss – were chemically broken down.

Sewage-related litter is one of the largest categories of rubbish found on Irish beaches and the most offensive, An Taisce says – initiating a “Think Before You Flush” campaign supported by Irish Water.