Feb 7th
2019

Downstream Thinking

Written by  Justin Thomas - Media Consultant
Downstream Thinking

In December 2018 South West Water discovered a 210ft monster fatberg lurking in the sewers in the stunning regency seaside town of Sidmouth. It isn’t something you imagine as you walk about clutching a pasty or an ice-cream debating which direction to walk to burn the calories off. Nonetheless this small British town has, collectively, clogged up their sewer network which, as you might imagine, terminates at the sea wall.

It has become something of London lore to know that fatbergs lurk in our Victorian plumbing but finding one in a seaside tourist town highlights that this issue has more to do with us than the stunning engineering below our feet. It isn’t the increase in use that causes the issue but more the change in our behaviour. 100 years ago we didn’t have disposable nappies, disposable sanitary products and non-degradable wipes. These, along with cooking fats, combine to make these incredible monstrosities that suck up sewer capacity and precious budgets.

It is time for some “blitz spirit”. Do your bit!

In fact our washroom services businesses and their clients have the ability to engender change at source. Our problem comes from the fact that Victorian sewers were engineered with massive over-capacity. Tall chambers and walkable tunnels provide ample capacity even for our populations today. However our attitude to how we deal with waste remains firmly in the 1800s. Back then our waste was very limited and we were flushing and draining away human waste, a small amount of dissolvable tissue and soap. Our facility usage has changed but we continue to think “Out of sight, out of mind” and simply flush where there is no option to dispose.

For decades now women have had a receptacle is almost every stall for the express purpose of disposing of sanitary products. Changing facilities include nappy bins. For us men the change is happening. All too slowly, but it is happening. So where is this rubbish coming from? It would appear that the issue is us and a lack of education. Sure we have a decent examinations and qualifications that still has respect around the world but we aren’t properly educated on our toileting and hygiene habits. Yes, I’m going there again.

Use of copy space. In the past I have had our readers create infomercial style posters for the inside of the stall door but this is one for the empty space behind the toilet. This is the direction people are facing when they dispose of their nappies, sanitary towels, wet wipes and the like. This is where the reminder is needed to use the facilities at hand. Combined with adequate disposal provision and we have a very real method to make an impact on this problem.

If you have travelled to Asia or the Middle East you will have seen the signs in the stalls reminding you to dispose of tissue paper in the bins provided. To be fair these signs are mostly provided for us visitors as the local populous would rather wash their behinds with the provided “hygiene hose” or “mandi” (a large spoon like bucket). These are far more hygienic as a solution and have the added bonus of not clogging up the sewers (but less debatable in the UK where the ambient temperature of tap water could be an “issue”). The reason for the notice is that these countries’ sewer systems are more modern and have less overcapacity. They simply don’t have to deal with the volume of waste that ours do so stopping people flushing tissue is the best solution.

With a little help and support from our washroom services businesses and our facilities managers we can slowly re-educate the population into taking ownership and allow our sanitation systems to work to their full capacity. After all NOBODY wants that stuff getting backed up!!

For more bright ideas or to take the next steps in your business’ journey to help lower your impact contact Zenith Washrooms and let us show you the way.

Justin Thomas - Media Consultant

Justin Thomas has been involved with Zenith Washroom Solutions (formerly ABC hygiene) since 2009. At first providing ABC hygiene's 2nd web solution then guiding Zenith Washrooms' online presence. This exploits the latest technologies whilst focusing on user experience improvements from the core.

During the past decade Justin has learned a huge amount about the hygiene industry through this work. Now Justin is a contracted media consultant to Zenith Washrooms. This provides a full range of online marketing solutions to Zenith Washrooms. This provides Zenith Washrooms to focus on providing a leading hygiene services solution for their customers.

Justin provides online media presence for a number of small technical businesses based in the UK. Justin lives with his wife and daughter enjoying a wide range of activities. Core being motorcycle maintenance, cooking, music and being a tech geek.

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