Article - The River Blog

Blockage Busters and Litter Heroes

Author: Jeanette Dyson
Categories: Plastic pollution, Projects

Children send a clear message to adults

We invited young people from across the catchment to take part in our design-a-poster competition. Supported by Yorkshire Water, the object of the competition was to design a poster to help spread the message that flushing wipes and dropping litter can damage the river environment.

Our Blockage Busters

By entering the Blockage Busters competition, the children learned that Yorkshire Water deals with 30,000 blocked pipes every year, with more than a third of these blockages caused by ‘so-called’ flushable wipes.

Baby wipes contain plastic and do not break down if flushed down the toilet. Instead, if cooking oil, grease and fat is tipped down the drain, baby wipes congeal into what have been named fatbergs.

Many so-called ‘flushable’ wipes also contain plastic. While they might flush away and disappear from the toilet bowl, they will not break down like paper and can block pipes.

When sewage pipes become blocked they can overflow and the contents can enter our river systems. Here they pollute our waterways, harming wildlife and turning our riverbanks into dumping grounds.

Spreading the message – don’t flush wipes!

The easiest way to avoid blocking pipes and polluting our rivers is NEVER to flush wipes down the toilet. Instead, if you must use wipes, dispose of them responsibly by throwing them in the bin.

To get this message across, we asked our Blockage Busters to come up with a design that showed people, at a glance, why they shouldn’t flush wipes.

Our Litter Heroes

Those entering the Litter Heroes competition discovered that littering and plastic waste costs £500 million each year to clear. Litter is often blown into rivers, where it can damage wildlife and eventually reach the ocean.

Research  shows that the vast majority of plastic in our oceans is transported there by rivers. We needed our poster to spread the message not to drop litter.

An important message

“While these competitions are fun for children to enter, there is also a serious message that we want to get across. Children will be the future custodians of our rivers so we need them to understand the damage that litter and, especially flushable wipes that contain plastic, can do to the environment,” said our River Steward, Simon Hirst.

“The competition teaches them simple things that we can all do to make a difference, such as correctly disposing of litter and wipes,” added Simon.

We invited local illustrator, and owner of Ameliorate Animation, Dr Simpo, to judge the competition. He praised many of the entries for their intricate artistic design and creativity, but chose the winners and runner-up based on the clarity of their design and effectiveness of the message.

Meet the winners

Kagan, a pupil at Newsome Primary School won first prize for his Blockage Busters poster design, with Oak Primary School pupil, Hamnah receiving the runners-up prize for her clear message. Amayah from Huddersfield Grammar School won the Litter Heroes competition. You can download the posters by clicking on the pictures below.

All of them received a book voucher and were presented with a copy of their poster. The 2 first prize winners also received a family ticket to visit Magna Science Adventure Park, courtesy of Magna.

As an added bonus, Dr Simpo turned the designs into posters to encourage people not to drop litter and not to flush wipes. Keep an eye out for the posters at key points along our catchment, including the Duck Feeding Area in Holmfirth and Spa Wood in Lockwood.

Special thanks to Yorkshire Water, Magna Science Adventure Park and Dr Simpo.



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