It is estimated that each year over 18 tonnes of plastic bottles end up in England's largest river along with 55m tonnes of raw sewage (the equivalent of 8bn toilets) and thousands of tonnes of plastic cigarette packaging, food wrapping, and other forms of litter. More than 20% of waste is made up of sanitary products such as pads and plastic backing strips, which had most likely been flushed straight down the toilet along with cotton buds and wet wipes.
Particularly worrying is that 4 million litres of sewage (the equivalent of one and a half Olympic sized swimming pools) is estimated to be leaking into the Thames in London and the South East from misconnected pipes and sewers. This results in untreated waste from appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, basins and toilets entering local waterways and damaging wildlife and the environment - a problem Matthew recently saw for himself after visiting constituents in Edgware who were experiencing this issue in Edgewarebury Brook.
Matthew said: "I became a member of Surfers against Sewage in the late 1980s when water pollution was still seen as a side issue but now, following the popularity of the Blue Planet, people recognise the damage we are having on our environment.
"The Government has led the action on microbeads and other pollutants but we must now take personal responsibility and stop using toilets as rubbish bins. Cotton buds, sanitary products and the infamous wet wipes should not be flushed away.
"Last October when I undertook a clean up of the Silk Stream in Burnt Oak https://www.matthewofford.co.uk/news/matthew-joins-river-clean-burnt-oak . I was shocked at the number of wet wipes that had been flushed. People must understand these are not bio-degradable and stop putting them in the toilet."