How to Reduce Water Pollution
Water is one of the world's most important resources, and we can all do our part to stop it from getting polluted. Simple changes like using natural cleaning products instead of toxic ones in your home and planting more trees and flowers in your yard can make an important impact. On a larger scale, consider speaking up against industries that dump waste into local streams, rivers, and beach fronts to reduce water pollution in your community. Every action you take makes a difference.
Changing Your Household Habits
Use fewer chemicals to clean your home.It's an easy switch that makes a big difference. Using toxic chemicals like bleach and ammonia to clean your home is not only bad for the water supply, it's not necessary. Natural cleaners are just as effective at getting the house clean, and you don't have to worry that you're contributing to water pollution when you use them.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a list of cleaning products (as well as a variety of other products) that are considered "green," meaning they won't pollute the water supply. See epa.gov/greenerproducts.
- Common household supplies like white vinegar and baking soda can be used for everything from washing windows to scrubbing bathroom tiles, and they're completely nontoxic.
Dispose of waste properly.Never pour something that isn't biodegradable down the drain. When it is necessary to use something that's toxic to the water supply, such as paint or ammonia, take care to dispose of it properly. If you're not sure how to get rid of something, check your local government's website or contact your sanitation department to find out how toxic waste should be disposed of in your community. The following materials should never be poured down the drain:
- Motor oil
- Cleaning solvents
- Pool chemicals
Don't flush medication.Medication is made with a variety of substances that can be detrimental to the water supply. If you have leftover medication, look into local "take back" programs that allow you to turn in medication so it can be disposed of properly.That way it won't end up back in the drinking water, where it can harm people and animals.
Don't flush trash.Flushing items that don't break down, like diapers, wet wipes, and plastic tampon applicators can cause problems in the sewer system. These items will eventually end up in local streams, rivers and other bodies of water, where they can harm fish and other wildlife. Instead of flushing them down the toilet, throw them away.
- You can also help by using cloth diapers, recycled toilet paper and biodegradable tampons, which reduces the number of items that end up in the landfill.
Conserve as much water as possible.Conservation is an important way to help preserve water as a global resource. Treating water so it's clean enough to drink and use around the house requires a lot of energy, so it's important to conserve as much as possible, especially in areas where droughts are occurring. Adopt the following habits to conserve more water around your house:
- Take showers instead of baths, since baths require more water.
- Turn off your faucets when you aren't using water, such as when you're brushing your teeth.
- Don't overwater your lawn. Make sure lawn sprinklers are turned off when it rains.
- Water your garden before the sun comes up or after it sets to reduce evaporation, which leads to water waste.
Avoid using plastic.Since it isn't biodegradable, plastic often ends up collecting in rivers, lakes, and oceans when it has nowhere else to go. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, for example, is a huge vortex of trash, mainly plastic, that has collected in the ocean since it has nowhere else to go.This trash endangers marine life and affects humans as well. Whenever possible, use glass or cloth containers instead of plastic.
Keeping Your Yard Pollution-Free
Don't use pesticides and herbicides.These chemicals are sprayed on the surface of the yard, but when it rains they leach deep into the ground and get into the groundwater below. Contaminated groundwater can have a negative effect on the environment as well as the people who depend on it. Switch to natural methods for getting rid of pests and weeds.
- Look into organic gardening practices to find creative ways to deal with garden pests. For example, many pests can be dealt with using a simple solution of dish soap and water.
- Planting native species can also help, since native species have developed a resistance to the pests and weeds in the area. Species native to other lands are more susceptible to disease as well.
Remove concrete surfaces and replace them with groundcover.When a house is surrounded by concrete patios and other surfaces, chemicals pool and runoff leaches into the groundwater instead of getting evenly distributed staying closer to the surface. It might be tempting to pave over your yard so you don't have to deal with mowing the lawn, but keeping a yard is much better for the environment.
Prevent soil erosion from occurring.When soil gets eroded and ends up in streams, rivers and other waterways, chemicals that exist in soil mix with the water and create problems for plant and animal life. For example, when phosphorus levels get too high in a body of water, they lead to algae blooms that can kill fish populations. The best way to prevent erosion is to keep the soil in place by planting plenty of native trees, shrubs, grasses and groundcover. The plants' roots hold the soil in place and keep it from falling into the water.
Contain and compost yard waste.Yard waste that sits around can easily wash into storm drains when it rains. Even if the waste doesn't contain chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides, the introduction of large quantities of sticks, leaves, and grass clippings can overwhelm waterways with unhealthy quantities of nutrients.
- Your compost should be contained in a bin or barrel to prevent the materials from being washed away. Some municipalities provide these for free or at low cost.
- Use a mulching mower instead of bagging grass clippings. Mulching mowers add a natural layer of compost to your lawn and you don't have to deal with disposal of grass clippings.
- Dispose of yard waste and grass clippings properly. If you don't compost or if you have yard waste that you can't compost, contact your local waste management or environmental protection agency to determine how to dispose them.
Keep your car in good repair.If your car leaks oil and other chemicals, they can leach into the groundwater beneath the soil. Get your car regularly tuned up and make sure to repair any leaks as soon as they occur.
- In addition, don't forget to dispose of motor oil properly instead of washing it down the drain.
Expanding Your Reach
Get involved at school and work.You can take the same actions at work or school that you'd take at home to reduce water pollution. Look into the policies at your workplace or school and find out if there are changes you could help to facilitate to create a pollution-free environment. Getting classmates, teachers, and coworkers involved is a great way to educate others and make a difference.
- For example, you could recommend that your office or school switch to eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and make suggestions as to which ones work well.
- You could also put up signs reminding people to conserve water in the bathroom and kitchen areas.
Help clean up litter in water-filled areas.If you live near a local body of water, there's a lot you can do to help reduce pollution there. See if there's a group working to clean up local beaches, lakes, rivers or oceans. Many cities host clean-up days during which volunteers can come help clean up trash to purify local waterways.
- If you can't find a local group working to reduce water pollution in your area, you might be just the person to start one! Consider hosting a cleanup day. Set a date, publicize the event, and have a plan in place for collecting and disposing of the trash.
Speak up about water issues that affect your community.Corporations that allow industrial waste to seep into waterways are the biggest culprits when it comes to water pollution.There are regulations in place to prevent this from occurring, but it's still a common occurrence. Find out if there's a certain factory or energy plant in your area responsible for polluting local waterways, and speak up about the problem.
- Learn about local and national laws against water pollution and join up with groups working to protect water in your area.
- Voting for political candidates who strive to protect waterways is a great way to do your part to reduce pollution.
QuestionHow can I help reduce water pollution in my school?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDon't waste anything, clean up the garbage lying around the fields and the school, be conservative in water usage. Encourage the school to plant native vegetation to help restore local habitat if there is a stream or river next to the school.Thanks!
QuestionHow can we save water?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTurn off the tap when you brush your teeth. This can save 6 liters of water per minute. Place a cistern displacement device in your toilet cistern to reduce the volume of water used in each flush. You can get one of these from your water provider. Take a shorter shower. Showers can use anything between 6 and 45 liters per minute. Always use full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher. This cuts out unnecessary washes in between. Fix a dripping tap. A dripping tap can waste 15 liters of water a day, or 5,500 liters of water a year. Install a water butt to your drainpipe and use the water collected to water your plants, clean your car and wash your windows.Thanks!
QuestionWhy do people litter?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBecause they're lazy and uncaring and would rather just drop their garbage wherever they are than look for a place to throw it away.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are some measures I can take to help prevent river pollution?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWhen near any body of water, do not let anyone to throw waste into it, do not pour oil or any kind of fat in the sink, and do not flush pills or allow others in your household to do so. Educate others by spreading the word to multiply your efforts' effects.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are other things that I could do at home to help reduce water pollution?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can help reduce water pollution by conserving water, and not littering.Thanks!
QuestionWhat will happen if water pollution gets very bad?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMany, many people around the world can get sick and die. Lack of clean water is one of the biggest humanitarian issues around the world.Thanks!
QuestionWhat measures are people taking to prevent river pollution?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPeople are no longer bathing their cattle in the river, washing their clothes or throwing garbage into the river.Thanks!
QuestionWhat will happen if we do not reduce water pollution?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWe will eventually run out of clean water and people, animals, and plants will start dying off.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I reduce my usage of plastic?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUse your own paper or cotton bags at the store, and use reusable containers for water.Thanks!
What must I do to reduce water erosion on the agricultural land
How do I bathe or wash in a body of water without polluting it?
How can we ensure sustainable use of water in south Africa?
Why do people throw wastes into water bodies?
Why does this cause water pollution?
To reduce water pollution, use natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda in place of toxic chemicals like bleach and ammonia. Additionally, avoid using pesticides and herbicides in order to prevent groundwater contamination. If you need to dispose of old medications, look into local “take back” programs instead of flushing them down the toilet, where they can end up back in the drinking water. Additionally, avoid flushing non-biodegradable items like diapers and wet wipes, since they can harm fish and other wildlife when they end up in lakes and rivers.
- Think about the big picture. You may think that a little oil leak on your car isn't a big deal. However, the oil from thousands or millions of cars with minor oil leaks adds up quickly and soon you're looking at a cumulative oil spill far worse than any oil tanker crash. You can't fix all the oil leaks in the world, but you can fix yours. Be part of the solution.
- If you are not sure whether something is hazardous, check with your local waste management or environmental protection department, or do some research online.
- In some areas, agricultural runoff may be a bigger pollution problem than urban runoff. If you're involved in agriculture, contact your local extension service or environmental protection agency to find out more about ways you can reduce your environmental impact.
- Educate your family, friends, and neighbors about ways to reduce their contributions to pollution. If your community doesn't already have environmental education programs, pollution control regulations or a hazardous waste recycling facility, take the initiative on this.
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