After a long day at work, you step into the shower. As smelly, brown water pours out of the shower head and you squirt a dollop of shampoo, you start to reminisce about last week’s beach vacation. The suds collecting at your toes remind you of the cool waves that swept over your feet and left a coke bottle at your toes. It matched the plastic bag and styrofoam décor strewn across the strangely colorful sand. As you rinse your head, your hands come away with wads of hair—as per usual. Not a happy sight, but you’re honestly just glad that the rash from swimming in the ocean last week went away.
You may have read this as a scare tactic, yet the experiences described are a reality for many. No matter what, none of us want to watch the world slowly become used to these pollutants seeping into our routines. In order to avoid such a spiral we first need to recognize these pollutants and then need to understand their consequences:
- Lead contaminated water poured from an unreported community water system and caused hair loss.
- Coke bottles, plastic bags, and styrofoam ended up on the beach due to a lack of recycling by individuals and companies.
- Sewage in coastal waters caused a rash.
How can we prevent and remove such pollutants from our water? There are many ways to do so, no matter how small our actions may seem.
1. Reduce and prevent solid pollution
In the kitchen:
- Quit water bottles, and get a reusable one to use for years to come.
- Reduce your fast-food trash: cooking is healthier anyway.
- Reduce use of single-serving plastics by buying in bulk whenever you know you’ll use it up.
- Avoid using your garbage disposal in favor of composting.
- Buy second-hand! Whether it’s clothes or toys, you could probably find that long-term item at a second-hand store or garage sale.
2. Reduce liquid pollution
- Never flush or pour these products:
- Used oil, fat, or grease (Keep a jar of fat from cooking and then dispose of it once solid).
- Chemical cleaners pills
- Liquid or powder medications or drugs
- Scoop up your pet waste on your walks.
- Take good care of and pay attention to your car so that you’re keeping coolants, antifreeze, oils, and other polluters in check.
- Using gravel, paver stones, wood, or other porous materials whenever possible instead of concrete or asphalt, which allows dirty run-off.
- Use only phosphate-free soaps and detergents.
- Minimize your use of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers.
3. Use your voice against the largest polluters and those who regulate them
- Support a bag tax or ban.
- Put pressure on manufacturers. As you may have read in a past article, social media is an important forum for letting a company know whether they could be smarter with their packaging or reducing their harmful outputs, for example.
- Contact a local environmental group if you see suspicious behavior from industries that might not be following laws and regulations that protect our water.
What other ideas do you have to help reduce pollution?
I appreciate this angle for the first “R” (reduce), as I’m guessing many of us have no idea of the many ways we’re poisoning the earth. And I also appreciate the focus on political action. If we just choose one action—such as a ban on plastic bags—we can make a difference. Let’s do it!