According to the marine conservation society, 7% of plastic found on UK beaches is coming from our homes. Bristol based campaigning organisation City to Sea have been raising awareness of the issue throughout 2017 with their Unflushables campaign, specifically highlighting the amount of wet wipes and menstrual products being flushed into our rivers and seas.
© Copyright City to Sea 2017
City to Sea began in 2014, when Natalie Fee wondered what would happen if she gathered a collaboration of practitioners, scientists, local organisations, marine biologists & campaigners to tackle plastic pollution, quickly and effectively bringing to the public’s attention common yet mostly unseen issues with the way we treated waste and water and achieving some major successes with retailers and industry with campaigns such as #SwitchtheStick
City to Sea Founder, Natalie Fee, recently gave a TED talk at TEDx Bristol on the issue and focused on the three Ps, telling the audience to put nothing down the loo but ‘Pee Paper and Poo’. City to Sea videos have caused a sensation this year and been featured in the Guardian – you can view them here.
We also spoke to Eden Warren, Operations Director at Threesixty Services, to get some direct tips on how we can all change some our practices to be more water efficient and find out how to support some additional initiatives.
Eden Warren, Operations Director © Copyright Threesixty Services 2017
Threesixty Services designs and installs stunning, bespoke bathrooms, and supports its customers in achieving eco-friendly bathrooms and plumbing solutions and believes that we all have a responsibility to care for and protect the environment in which we operate – you can see more about their environmental ethos at threesixtyplumbing.co.uk/environment.
“Being as ‘green’ as we can be is a key aspect of Threesixty’s ethos and being a Bristol business. We strive to adopt the highest environmental standards in all areas of our operation and that’s why, amongst other things, our transport fleet includes a 100% electric eco-van and an electric bicycle.
People don’t always realise that environmentally friendly options in their home or workplace can often be the same price as normal fixtures, and that longer-term, these options are often more cost effective. Consequently, we love talking to businesses about solutions that will help them save money, while improving energy efficiency in their workplace and distinguish their company as a ‘green’ employer.
We recommend a number of eco-products on our website and we’re delighted to speak to local businesses about environmentally-conscious plumbing solutions in their workplace.”
Here are some of Eden’s recommendations for quick wins that businesses can action this week, in conjunction with World Toilet Day, to make their workplace more environmentally friendly.
◊ When installing bathroom facilities in the workplace, there are many eco-friendly options available for fittings – toilets, taps, showers, etc. Installing a dual-flush toilet is a simple solution to instantly reduce water consumption
◊ Toilet flushing is one of the biggest culprits in terms of wasting water; according to Bristol Water, flushing a toilet at home uses an average of 36 litres of water a day, so in your workplace, the volume of wasted water is significantly more. Fitting Hippo Water Savers to your toilet cisterns will help conserve water – every time a toilet is flushed with this low-cost device it will save up to three litres of water, as well as reduce your company’s carbon footprint – and save your business money. Waterless urinals can be an option but have to be carefully managed and there’s the ultimate option of pressurized air flushing toilets, such as the Propelair
◊ Tap inserts – or tap aerators – are small attachments that can be fitted on to the end of the tap or inserted inside of the spout. They act as a sieve, separating a single flow of water into many tiny streams which introduces air into the water flow. They are very cheap and quick to fit and can make a notable saving in water consumption. In a similar way, if you have shower facilities, you can change your shower heads to aerated ones, which will create the same enjoyable drench effect but with up to 30% less water wasted
◊ Another popular choice with many businesses is installing a boiling water tap in kitchen areas – it is more energy efficient than boiling a kettle, plus it stops staff from accidentally overfilling that kettle (we all do it!) and saves hanging around for the kettle to boil
◊ Longer term, businesses can apply for a Bristol City Council grant via TravelWest to help them improve their sustainable travel provision for their employees. This could mean a new cycle parking area or installing shower facilities – something that Threesixty can help with
In addition, Threesixty is working to help those people overseas who simply don’t have access to decent, healthy sanitation that we all take for granted, and have joined the Toilet Twinning scheme and are aiming to work with their customers to provide this basic – but critical – facility to as many communities as possible.
Globally one in three people are without access to a toilet and almost half of these live in India. FRANK Water works to deliver safe, clean drinking water to communities in India and Nepal. However – put simply – installing a safe water supply will make no difference to people’s health if they continue to defecate in the open and omit to wash their hands. To this end, FRANK works not only on water but WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene). FRANK Water’s Social Enterprise Manager, Annabelle explained;
“We do this with communities that are hard to reach, may have been left behind by progress or are marginalised from mainstream society by their caste. Whilst water, sanitation and hygiene education are the three mainstays of our work, there are multiple other factors at play – including gender.”
Women and girls are most affected by lack of safe water and toilets – in most cases, they’re responsible for finding and carrying water to and from their house which takes up time that could be spent at school or at work. Without a toilet, women have nowhere safe or private to relieve themselves – and are forced to put themselves at risk. Nor are they able to manage their menstrual hygiene safely.
© Copyright FRANK Water 2017
Jon Shepherd, FRANK Water’s India Programme Manager, said;
“In our everyday work, we see the terrible impacts of families having no toilet. Women getting up before dawn to go for a pee, stunting of children due to illness caused by poor sanitary conditions and girls leaving school when there is no toilet for them to use when menstruating. These are three reasons why at FRANK, we are massive fans of World Toilet Day and of the UN Global Goal 6, to reach everyone with sanitation by 2030.”
FRANK doesn’t simply build toilets, they also support communities to claim funding from the Indian government’s Clean India campaign to build their own. Last year, In Telangana, FRANK water supported 1145 families to apply for funding to build individual family toilets and so far, 427 applications have been approved, and 82 are complete. In Madhya Pradesh, FRANK water supported families from three villages to secure funding to build toilets, whilst those living in villages who have already secured safe water are with FRANK water’s help slowly working to become open defecation free (ODF). In Chhattisgarrh, 1230 households now have toilets through FRANK water’s work and the remaining 1332 toilets are due to be completed over the next 12 months.
In Agra, FRANK water have helped set up community groups to take the lead on various sanitation and hygiene initiatives – slowly but surely, residents are starting to apply for funding for toilets from the Clean India campaign.
Karen Simpson (BSc FCIWEM CWEM CEnv) is a Doctoral Researcher and a member of the UWE sustainability committee – a student body and new for this academic year – for students who are passionate about sustainability to innovate and have the power to create positive change throughout UWE and beyond. Members of the committee all have different areas of interest, with Karen as the lead for water, looking at water efficiency and showering routines. Karen told us;
“UWE are holding an event on Friday using World Water Day as the hook, planning to raise awareness amongst the student body about identifying and reporting leaks – in particular leaking WCs. Research by the water industry indicates that around 5% of WCs leak – which means that they constantly waste water – modern WCs have internal overflows so water flows directly into the toilet bowl and continues undetected, unreported and don’t get fixed. It is particularly problematic with new style push-button WCs. These leaking WCs can waste an average of 215 litres per day – that’s more an individual’s daily consumption.”
The event will also raise awareness so that they can check their WCs at home and raise with their landlords to get fixed – especially important if they are on a water meter as they will be being charged for this wasted water. There is also an embedded energy (from treating and pumping) and carbon win too. UWE will also be giving away free shower timers from Bristol Water to encourage students to spend less time in the shower!