Did you know that every day more than 15 million in London and the Thames Valley flush or drain 2.8 billion litres of used water for treatment? This is where our Sewper Heroes come in, to help keep things flowing down underneath the street and deep in our sewers.
One of our Sewper Heroes from the ads watched our 'Fatberg Autopsy - Secret of the Sewers' documentary and was actually inspired to learn more and subsequently apply for a role, “I’ve been a sewage flusher for nearly a year now, I saw the documentary on TV about the fatbergs and the people working in the sewers and it really caught my interest, so I had a look on Google to read more about the job and I saw their were vacancies, so I applied and got the job.” Our Sewper Heroes clear out 75000 blocked sewer drains each year, you wouldn’t believe the stuff they find! One of their pet peeves, to put it mildly is wet wipes, it’s best to bin your wet wipes and not flush them down the loo. Unlike toilet paper, they don’t dissolve. Wet wipes cause…you guessed it - FATBERGS! But that isn't all they find down there... They say you learn something new every day, one of our Sewper Heroes pointed out the weirdest thing they ever encountered, “One of the weirdest things you might find down the sewers are the dead rats, for some reason when they die the gasses in their bodies make them inflate, so there are massive swollen dead rats floating around which is pretty nasty!”
It doesn't stop there! Missing something from your underwear drawer? Finding items like these in our sewers certainly triggers the imagination! What do you think the story behind these undergarments could be? Comment below!
Learn more about how you can help #FightTheFatberg
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I got a chance to interview one of our beauty influencers from our #FightTheFatberg campaign, the lovely Shahed Alsh. As you know, wet wipes contribute to disgusting fatbergs. If you don’t believe me, check out what our sewper heroes found last year!
Instead of flushing your wet wipes, just put them in the bin.
A fatberg caused by wet wipes and other bits that should not be flushed down the loo
Peta: What was the first thing that popped in your head when you heard of the fatberg?
Shahed: I visualised little monsters ruining our water, and questioned how much damage we were doing to our sewers/water without realising it.
Peta: What made you want to participate in our #FightTheFatberg campaign?
Shahed: I use makeup wipes on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day as I wear makeup every day to my workplace. I never knew the consequences of flushing them down the toilet & I'm sure rarely anyone who uses makeup wipes would know the consequences. For me, showing people that they could reduce the formation of these Fatbergs just by throwing the wipes in the bin is important - because makeup wipes are a part of every makeup fanatic's routine.
Peta: Were you aware that wet wipes are a big contributor to the fatberg?
Shahed: I wasn't aware prior to the campaign. Fortunately I've never flushed makeup wipes, however I know lots of people that do - especially people with busy lifestyles, i.e full time students, workers. I felt the importance of projecting the issue to everyone - showing them that they might be doing something that's damaging our water without them even realising it. It saddened me to hear that we are causing this issue when the solution is so simple.
Peta: What sort of reaction did you get from your followers?
Shahed: I received a lot of messages asking me what the Fatberg is. It made me realise that lots of people are simply not aware of what they are causing which is why they're not thinking before they act. I'm sure now after reading and researching about it, they're going to take more care of where they decide to discard their wipes.
Peta: I noticed in your post, you mentioned that even though you bin overflows with wet wipes, you still throw them away. Do you think that’s why some people flush them down the toilet, because they take up space in the bin?
Shahed: Yes, of course. People definitely see it as the easier option, rather than filling up their bins & having to take the bin out, especially when most people have busy lifestyles.
Peta: Thank you for doing such an awesome job raising awareness about not flushing wet wipes down the toilet, what’s your biggest takeaway from participating in our #FightTheFatberg campaign?
Shahed: To continue to raise awareness about the issue: this is our water that we need to look after & maintain. We are ultimately all responsible for the quality of our water & any damage we may do to our sewers. To also encourage people to image search the Fatberg - so they could see exactly what we are causing to our sewers! #binit
Learn more on how you can #FightTheFatberg
Keep up to day with Shahed and all her adventures on Instagram!
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Hiya While we don't work specifically with Greenpeace at the moment we do work with a really wide variety of other Environmental Groups and NGOs. For all the things we may get wrong or right i'm proud to say we're really committed to partnership working with NGOs so i thought i'd give you a flavour of some of what we do below... On a national scale there's a really effective collection of eNGOs called the Blueprint for Water - which includes the likes of WWF, Friends of the Earth, RSPB, MCS and the Angling Trust. As the name suggests they're all focussed on water-based issues and we work closely with them when devising our five year business plans and were one of the first groups to sign up to their shared principles. We also share relevant bin-it campaign details with them and they're very good at promoting our shared messages when they can. On a local scale we fund and do alot of work with groups like Thames 21 - who work with communities across Greater London to improve our rivers, canals, ponds and lakes for people and wildlife. They've been really influential at raising awareness about wet wipes through their regular foreshore clean ups. I'm actually off to see them later today to talk about London Rivers Week! We also work with specialist groups on specific issues, for instance in the Autumn we funded a plastic-free-periods campaign with the Women's Environmental Network to help raise awareness about plastic pollution, bin-it behaviour and period poverty. As Peta has said we're always on the look out for new partners and new ways to get our communicate our story to the public, so ideas like reaching out to the likes of Greenpeace are really welcome :-) thank you!
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As part of our #FatTheFatberg campaign, we recommend you put your fats and cooking oil in a glass jar and bin it. But did you know you can use some fats to make fat balls for birds?
The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is happening from 26 th to 28 th January (this weekend) and I got a great fat ball recipe (thanks to the RSPB) your feathered friends will absolutely love!
I got a chance to interview Jamie Wvyer from RSPB, who provided some helpful tips on what sort of fats you should use and avoid.
Peta: Which fats are appropriate to use when making fat balls for birds?
Jamie: When you’re making fat balls for birds, what you need is fairly solid fats – suet and lard. The kind of thing in warmish weather will stay solid.
Peta: I understand there’s some fats people should avoid using because they are harmful to birds, which ones are they?
Jamie: That’s right, so when you use fat from cooking, the problem with that is - it’s runny and you got meat juices/blood blended into it. When you put it out in your garden it smears on birds’ feathers. And the reason that’s bad, it blocks their feathers from the ability to stay healthy, especially this time of year. It’s very hard for them to clean it off, keep warm and to keep their feathers waterproof.
Peta: What sort of nutritional benefits do fat balls have for birds and how does that contribute to their overall health?
Jamie: In winter they need to maintain their body temperature and building up a layer of fat is particularly a good idea for them. You will notice when you put a variety of food out for them all year around, the intake of fat is much greater in winter. They tend to eat a lot more fat when it’s cold.
Peta: What sort of fat ball add-ons are popular among birds?
Jamie: They tend to look for insect protein, I find breaking up pieces of meal worms is a good idea. But you can also seeds, if you got bits in your kitchen, there’s no harm in throwing in cheese, dry fruit is also a good option. But I must be clear you should avoid using dry fruit in the garden, if you got cats or dogs because it can be very bad for them.
Photo Credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com) Peta: Could you clarify if peanut butter is ok to use? Or would you avoid any nut butters?
Jamie: It depends on the ingredients, you can use peanut butter, but I would look very carefully at the ingredients just in case there might be a chance it might smear on their feathers. The nuts are obviously the key parts; it’s probably much easier to just put nuts out in the garden. But again, look at the peanut butter ingredients; to see if it’s suitable for birds. It’s not something we would recommend, but there is some goodness there.
Peta: Can you tell me any special activities RSPB are planning for the Big Garden Birdwatch?
Jamie: Yes, well the Big Garden Birdwatch is a special activity in itself, this year in 2019; we’re celebrating 40 years of the Big Garden Birdwatch! It runs over three days, at the end of January. Anyone can take part in it, it’s free and it’s actually great fun as well. You can take part the 26 th to the 28 th of January; it involves sitting by your window, looking into your garden or heading to local green space. You keep a record of the highest number of species of birds you might see at any one time. If you have a robin popping in or two robins popping in later in the day, it would be the two robins you would count. And you send your details onto us of what you recorded and from there we can build up a big national picture of what birds are sparring across the country.
If you need want to venture outside your garden, why not check out our reservoirs and sites? If you're participating in the Big Garden Birdwatch, post your pictures in the comments below!
Photo credit: RSPB
Speedy Bird Cake recipe
Safe food for birds
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The majority of gripes we hear from customers, whether that be on social media or over the phone, are about our lack of transparency. People want this kind of information: they want to understand why a road is still closed even though noone is visibily on site working, or why a repair is 'complex', etc. So I for one am glad to see that we aspire to put this level of detail out as a matter of course. Having worked in customer service myself, I know first hand that people are more likely to show understanding and patience if you are able to explain what the problem is, and why you need do something that may seem abitrary to the uninitiated!
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I'm sure our engineers will appericate your kudos! this was a tough job, but they truly rock.
Like Steven said, putting oil down the sewer is incredibly irresponsible, it could've been catastrophic, but luckily our engineers spotted it.
If ever see anyone dumping oil down our sewers, be sure to call 0800 980 8800.
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Thanks for you suggestion, that's a really good idea! I will let the team know. We do raise awareness about it throughout the year.
It's also a part of our Winter Campaign. As I mentioned we will be doing more pieces around it on community.
If your mate needs any further assistance they can give our Priority Services team a call, 0800 009 3652 or email email@example.com
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For now we're advising customers to bin wet wipes, but those wet wipes that claim to be flushable, if they contain plastic, sadly they do cause a problem and contribute to the fatberg.
But we welcome this new label and we'll keep the community posted on these new wet wipes.
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