Think Before You Flush


A Marine Litter campaign

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Think Before You Flush

The campaign

The Think Before You Flush initiative raises public awareness about the problem sanitary products (known in the business as Sewage Related Debris or SRD) cause in the sewage system and marine environment if they are flushed down the toilet. In 2014 SRD was thought to be responsible for 253,000 blockages in the UK’s sewer system leading to clean up costs in excess of £80 million.

The campaign also raises the awareness of the environmental impacts of plastics used in sanitary products and calls for a complete ban on plastic components that consistently pollute the marine environment such as cotton bud sticks and micro-beads. The Think Before You Flush initiatives aims to:

  • Create Think Before You Flush communities to help engage the public, raise awareness of the issue and impacts, and encourage responsible bathroom behavior to protect the sewerage infrastructure, sewage system capacity and the marine environment from sewage & plastic pollution.
  • Ensure manufacturers of sanitary products remove plastics to prevent sewage system blockages and plastic beach litter. We are also calling on them to better educate their customers on responsible disposal of sanitary products and, in the case of sanitary wipes, to ensure that they never advise of disposal in the loo.
  • Support a complete ban on micro-beads and other unnecessary plastic elements in cosmetic products.

Support the Think Before You Flush initiative and join us in making small changes in our bathroom behaviour and never use the toilet to dispose of sanitary products.


Get involved

How can you help with this campaign…

  • Remember the Think Before You Flush message in your bathroom and download a free Think Before You Flush leaflet. Download document

Campaign timeline

Key campaign dates


Think Before You Flush Launched!

SAS campaigners undertake some secret shopping missions on the highstreet and identify 6 major retailers and manufacturers selling cotton bud sticks without advice on responsible disposal.

SAS campaigners contact these brands and start working on an immediate solution.


Think Before You Flush

CAMPAIGN SUCCESS! SAS campaigners were successful in persuading retailers and manufacturers to promote the Think Before You Flush message or similar on their cotton bud packaging.


Think Before You Flush message hits the beach

The Think Before You Flush message was the cornerstone of the SAS flagship beach clean at Porthtowan.  A Cornish beach that is consistently impacted by vast numbers of cotton bud sticks.


The Good, The Bad And the Ugly Think Before You Flush Companies.

On World Toilet Day SAS promoted the sanitary product manufacturers taking responsible the measures to advise their customers how to properly dispose of their products, along with those manufacturers that replaced plastics with low-impact materials such as reinforced cardboard cotton-bud stick stems.

SAS also exposed the bad – the companies that continue to produce sanitary items yet refuse to include proper disposal information or icons, or remove unnecessary plastic elements from their products, which consistently end up on our beaches. The UK’s tide lines are littered with sanitary products that have travelled through the sewer network.


SAS celebrates Porthleven as the world’s first Think Before You Flush town!

SAS is proud to announce Porthleven as the World’s first Think Before You Flush Town. Working closely with the Environment Agency, SAS successfully engaged the Porthleven community with the Think Before You Flush campaign, empowering them protect local beaches from unwanted sewage discharges and sanitary waste. Learn more…