Metro Vancouver hopes toilet humour will be a better weapon than gross-out reality in persuading residents to stop flushing disposable wet wipes that clog the sewers.
The regional district is testing a new public education campaign, rolling out in Pitt Meadows first, that calls itself “your guide to adult toilet training.”
It features supposedly helpful tongue-in-cheek tip cards like “check for tp before you pp”, “bathrooms: not a good place for a selfie” and “don’t flush keys or cellphones” alongside a more frequent message: “never flush wipes.”
An informative video goes further, cautioning against flushing other “unflushables” – such as tampons, dental floss and hair – in fact anything other than the “fellowship of the throne: pee, poo and toilet paper.”
Jammed sewer pipes and pumps have been a growing headache and Metro says it’s already cost $100,000 so far this year to pry out twisted masses of the wipes that are often marketed as flushable.
But nobody wants to see the icky reality inside the sewers, said Metro corporate communications manager Larina Lopez, hence the decision to go funny.
Lopez said a survey found most wipes being flushed are personal hygiene wipes used by women in bathrooms, not baby wipes.
Women will therefore be the $85,000 campaign’s main target, she said, with ads in public washrooms and in other media, as well as a roving pink port-a-potty to emphasize the message.
If it works in Pitt Meadows – the regional district will measure if fewer wipes end up stuck in the pump station that serves that area – then expect the campaign to roll out across the region. Meanwhile, the pitch can be found at neverflushwipes.ca.