Meet Metro Vancouver’s two newest mascots, Poo and Pee.
Yes, you read that correctly, and no, the anthropomorphic, plush representations of human waste aren’t a joke, even though they made their first appearance on April 1.
They’re the new face of a campaign called “The Unflushables” which seeks to educate the public about the cost of — and problems associated with — flushing non-biodegradable material down the region’s toilets.
But while the duo didn’t make a huge splash in its first outing, a video of the pair’s appearance at Waterfront Station popped up on Metro Vancouver’s Facebook page Monday, drawing attention on social media soon after.
“Regional tax dollars went to it, which makes it even more objectively stupid than the 2011 NPA chicken suit,” wrote Twitter user @Gregh.
Other comments suggested, “someone should have flushed this idea” or referenced Mr. Floatie, the poop mascot that sought to raise awareness about the need for a Victoria sewage treatment plant.
But while the mascots are, on the surface, patently ridiculous, the issue at hand is no joke to the regional district, which has funded an outreach campaign involving the pair to the tune of $190,000.
That figure includes the costs to open up and unclog pumps and to repair damaged infrastructure.
“Obviously, it’s expensive for our regional system, but if you get a clog in your own home or your condo complex, you could potentially be on the hook for those repairs,” Lusk added.
The campaign is particularly focused on items such as tampons and wipes, which may be labelled “flushable,” but which the region’s solid waste system can’t actually handle. Hair, dental floss, condoms, and expired medications are also on the hit list.
WATCH: Massive glob of ‘flushable’ baby wipes clog parts of Charleston sewer well in South Carolina
Other items may be made of synthetic fibres which end up disintegrating into microplastics that end up in the sea, according to the regional district.
It points to a recent study by Ryerson University which found out of 101 products reviewed, just 11 actually met the “flushable” specifications developed by the International Water Services Flushability Group, all of them normal toilet paper.
“Our sewage system doesn’t get enough respect. I think as consumers we really have to understand that what we flush doesn’t just disappear,” says Coquitlam Mayor and Chair of the region’s Liquid Waste Committee in the campaign’s launch video.
“It goes down and has to be dealt with by Metro Vancouver and its municipalities. We want people only to flush the pee and the poo because there’s a whole bunch of stuff that gets flushed down the toilet that doesn’t belong there.”
Hence the mascots.
Lusk says unusual pair will be popping up at a variety of civic and municipal events throughout the summer, including a Richmond Public Works open house on May 11 and the Surrey Doors Open event on June 8.