Water pollution doesn’t just happen when big companies dump waste or major accidents release chemicals into bodies of water.
As we continue our 50 Ways in 50 Days countdown to Earth Day (April 22, 2020 marks the holiday’s 50th anniversary), here are a few ways to be better about water pollution in your everyday life.
Compost instead of using a disposal
Garbage disposals may be convenient, but the EPA suggests putting your food scraps in a compost pile instead. The food waste in a disposal puts a heavy burden on water treatment plants and ultimately contributes to water pollution, while a compost pile helps home gardeners and farmers revitalize soil with leftover nutrients.
Don’t use your toilet like a trashcan
Unless it’s toilet paper, all paper goods (wrappers, tissues, paper towels, etc) belong in the trash, not the toilet. Same goes for other items like pills or cleaning agents.
Don't pour oil down the sink
After frying up a delicious meal, you may be tempted to pour dirty cooking oil down the sink. That’s a quick way to damage your own pipes and the entire water system. Serious Eats suggests saving the oil, either straining it to reuse it for future frying or storing it until you have enough to justify disposing with solid waste.
Reduce laundry detergent
Many people naturally use too much detergent when doing a load of laundry. Reduce the amount of detergent and/or bleach, and be sure to fill your washing machine with a large load instead of running it with only a few items.
Pick up after your dog
The Natural Resources Defense Council points out that picking up your dog’s waste while walking can help prevent contamination. Rain could easily pick up abandoned waste and carry it into sewers.
Fix your car
The NRDC also suggests taking your car in for regular maintenance to avoid leaking oil, coolant or antifreeze into the sewer system as you drive.
Generally reduce water use
Pollution doesn’t just happen when you dirty water with other substances. A lot of energy and polluting chemicals are used to heat and pump water to your house, according to the EPA. Taking shorter showers, installing low-flow toilets and showers, turning off water while shaving or brushing your teeth, and avoiding hosing off driveways or cars can all lower your general water use and reduce pollution overall.