Everyone understands that clean water is vitally important. Yet, many things we do can contribute to water pollution in different ways. This post describes some easy and inexpensive ways to protect water by doing certain things at home and in the community.
Dispose of Toxic Chemicals Properly:
Household solvents, pesticides, and cleaners might not seem that bad. But, bleach, paint, paint thinner, ammonia, and many chemicals are becoming a serious problem. If you combine millions of people every month dumping toxic chemicals down the drain or flushing them down the toilet, the effects add up. This is why proper disposal is important.
Many household chemicals can be recycled. Your community may have a recycling center that can take the old paint, used motor oil, and other chemicals and recycle them. Community collection centers and drop-off sites also exist in some areas. Your community may even have a hazardous waste collection day where those toxic old chemicals can be dropped off for safe disposal.
Shop with Water Pollution in Mind:
You can avoid issues with household chemicals and pesticides by not buying products that contain persistent and dangerous chemicals in the first place. Many companies now sell non-toxic cleaners and biodegradable cleaners and pesticides. Spending a little extra money on those products automatically cuts down on water pollution.
Do Not Pour Fat and Grease Down the Drain:
Grease, fat, and used cooking oil should be disposed of in the trash or kept in a “fat jar” for disposal with other solid waste. Your pipes might clog and cause sewer pipes to clog and back up into yards and basements. The waste also contaminates local bodies of water.
Use Phosphate-Free Detergent and Dish Cleaner:
You can further cut down on water pollution by using just enough of these cleaners to do the job. Phosphates aren’t the only harmful chemicals in cleaners. Phosphates lead to algae blooms and kill fish and other aquatic animals by reducing the oxygen in the water.
Check Your Sump Pump or Cellar Drain:
Sometimes these devices drain into the town’s sanitary sewer pipes. This connection dumps biological wastes, heavy metals, cleaning chemicals and more into the system. If you have a sump pump or cellar drain and aren’t sure where they drain to, you should be able to find out by checking with the city’s pollution control department.
Dispose of Medical Waste Properly:
Never flush medicines down the toilet, and never dump them in the nearest pond or creek. The drugs tend to accumulate in the water, and in fish and other wildlife. Hormones and other compounds end up causing a variety of health problems in fish and birds and contaminate drinking water that people and livestock use.
Eat More Organic Food:
While chemicals can be used on organic foods, they tend to be produced with few synthetic chemicals. Eating organic reduces the amount of chemical pollution that ends up in the water. The food we choose to eat has a huge impact on environmental quality, between the chemicals used to grow food, the fuel used to transport the crops, and the fuel used to power farm equipment on industrial farms.
Report Water Polluters:
Many cases of illegal waste disposal and other forms of water pollution go unreported and often aren’t cleaned up. Report people who pour oil in storm drains, toss bags of trash in a stream, and so on.
Support Environmental Charities:
No matter where you live in the country, there are going to be charities working on watershed protection, water pollution cleanup, and similar causes. Find an organization that’s active in your area and make a donation every year. Your support may even lead to expanded anti-pollution work.
Cut Down on Meat Consumption:
Raising animals for meat takes lots of water for the grains and other foods they need, as well as to keep them alive. Further, the antibiotics and solid waste both tend to end up in groundwater and rivers.
Try to Avoid Plastic Containers:
Plastic shopping bags and plastic rings from six-packs of beverages cause inordinate problems in the nations lakes and seas. Plastic bottles can last for decades in the water. Buy some reusable cloth or plastic grocery bags instead. They can be had for as little as $1 each, so there is a minimal cost involved. Use reusable, insulated containers to hold drinks and make your own filtered water at home.
Keep Your Vehicles from Leaking:
Oil and other fluids leak from motor vehicles and end up in the local water table, or running off into creeks and streams. This runoff problem is easy to treat; just be diligent about maintaining and repairing your vehicles. Leaky seals, hoses, and gaskets tend to cause expensive mechanical problems anyway, so replacing the worn parts can save you money.
Cut Down on the Chemicals:
Homeowners like to keep the yard looking green and healthy. This desire for a green lawn produces water pollution in two ways: Fertilizers and pesticides inevitably run off the shrubs and lawns and into the water. Select landscaping that is adapted to the climate. No matter where you live, there are bound to be attractive plants that can thrive with minimal help from added chemicals. This makes the plants cheaper to care for. As a bonus, you will waste less water keeping those plants alive.
Plant Some Trees:
Trees reduce erosion that washes pollution into the water and reduces erosion. You can also volunteer your time in a local tree-planting effort. If you own land along a river or pond, plant trees, bushes, or grass along the bank.
Help Clean Up Beaches and Rivers:
Supporting charities devoted to protecting the water is important because they can do work that is beyond the power of the average homeowner. If you choose not to donate money, or really can’t afford it, volunteer to help plant trees or clean up the local river or help collect leftover chemicals from local residents. Some environmental groups might have collection days where they need volunteer labor.