Flan­nels not fat­bergs! Say no to wet wipes

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Im­ages of melt­ing ice­bergs have long proved in­spi­ra­tional to en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and politi­cians seek­ing to mit­i­gate the threat of man-made cli­mate change. So why is it that im­ages of gi­ant fat­bergs clog­ging our sew­ers can’t seem to stop peo­ple flush­ing wet wipes down the loo?

This month, a 130-tonne fat­berg stretch­ing the length of two foot­ball pitches was re­vealed dur­ing a rou­tine in­spec­tion of the age­ing sewage pipes be­neath Whitechapel, in east Lon­don. Weigh­ing about the same as a medium-sized jet­liner, the fat­berg is among the largest ever found and, left unchecked, could have sent a del­uge of raw sewage on to the streets of Lon­don.

Thames Wa­ter re­port­edly spends around £1m each month clear­ing sim­i­lar block­ages. Mean­while, flushed wet wipes that don’t end up stuck in the sewer make it to the sea in­stead. In

2015, vol­un­teers with the Marine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety found

4,000 wipes washed up on

Bri­tish beaches: that’s 80 wipes for ev­ery mile of coast­line they ex­am­ined.

Wipes of­ten con­tain plas­tic, and will not dis­in­te­grate in wa­ter un­like loo pa­per. UK wa­ter com­pa­nies have urged manufacturers to la­bel their prod­ucts as not flush­able, with­out sig­nif­i­cant suc­cess. And while they were in­vented for use on ba­bies’ bot­toms, wipes are now of­ten used as makeup re­movers, house­hold clean­ers and even as lux­ury loo roll. Black Eyed Peas front­man will.i.am, whose phil­an­thropic con­cerns in­clude con­ser­va­tion char­i­ties, once told Elle mag­a­zine that he pre­ferred not to date women who didn’t keep baby wipes be­side the loo. (His ra­tio­nale be­ing that if you were to wipe cho­co­late on a wooden floor, cleaning it up with dry tow­els might prove tricky.)

In the UK, the wipes sec­tor is worth more than £500m a year, while the global wipes mar­ket is ex­pected to grow by more than 5% a year un­til at least 2020. But why spend so much on wet wipes when there are more eco­nom­i­cal, eco-friendly al­ter­na­tives?

Wip­ing ba­bies’ bot­toms

Get a spe­cially de­signed nappy bin – wipes still end up in landfill, but at least they avoid clog­ging up the sew­ers. Al­ter­na­tively, cot­ton wool or a piece of wash­able flan­nel with warm wa­ter will do the job.

Makeup re­moval

Baby wipes usu­ally con­tain al­co­hol, which dries out the skin and won’t wash your face thor­oughly, de­spite ap­pear­ances. Ex­perts say that a sim­ple, qual­ity cleanser, washed off with an old-fash­ioned flan­nel soaked in hot wa­ter, is far bet­ter – and re­us­able.

Wip­ing adults’ bot­toms

If your bum re­ally is too sen­si­tive for quilted loo roll, there are sprays such as Freshu that can be used to pre-mois­ten the pa­per. Or just stop flush­ing and get your­self a grownups’ nappy bin.

House­hold cleaning

Haven’t you heard of J-cloths? Tim Walker

One in five grand­par­ents hate the name given to their grand­child, ac­cord­ing to a new sur­vey. Ob­jec­tions in­cluded the cho­sen moniker be­ing “too odd”, “made up” or “too old-fash­ioned”, with names such as Char­lotte, Aurora, Eli­jah, Finn, Jack, Noah, Sally and Tabitha cited as un­pop­u­lar. Source: Mum­snet/ Gransnet NAME AND SHAME

You don’t have to use wet wipes; is will.i.am a big wet wipe fan (be­low)

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