Each person has the ability to reduce the amount of pollution that humans create. There is no debate that most of the pollution in the Great Lakes, and around the world for that matter, is the result of human activity. There is also no debate that pollution has caused drastic changes to the environment and it continues to harm our water. Some pollution can be traced to a specific location, but some of it is called nonpoint source pollution and this type of pollution is where you, as an individual, can make an immediate difference. Nonpoint source doesn’t mean it appeared from nowhere. Contrary, it means the pollution originated from a large number of small sources or a large land area, that then concentrated in rivers and streams. This is often the case with runoff from streets or agricultural fields. Every individual, of any age, can positively reduce pollution.
Below is a list of ten ways that any individual can reduced the pollution of our environment. Just so there is no confusion, the water that we drink comes from the ground. We drink water from wells and aquifers, all of it is pumped from the ground to the places we need it. The water that we all pollute, drains into the groundwater. Maintaining a healthy environment for all creatures is also a great reason for following these simple steps. The many species of plants and animals also will be healthier with fewer pollutants in their habitat. Here is how you can keep the water source clean for all of us.
1. Use reusable water bottles, not disposable.
Excessive waste from our society is a problem. It is best to have one waterbottle that you refill rather than using disposable bottles that end up in the trash, on the street, and in a landfill, or possibly floating down a river, in a lake, or in the ocean.
2. Don’t wash your car in the driveway, wash it on the lawn.
A variety of pollutants and detergients are rinsed from your vehicle during washing. By parking your car on the lawn the plants in your lawn can limit the amount of these pollutants that enter into the street drain and then to streams and lakes. Plants will uptake the chemicals and reduce the pollutants that make it to the streams.
3. Dispose of hazardous chemicals properly. Don’t dump down the drain, indoors or out.
Hazardous chemicals include cleaners, paints, and many other often used chemicals. The idea that the chemical will be deluted and won’t be a problem is false. Drains are not for disposing of liquid garbage. These items are probably the most important to store, use, and dispose of properly. Visit the Allegan County Website for more information on disposing of household chemicals in Allegan County.
4. Recycle used motor oil. Deliver used motor oil to a recycling location.
This one seems like a no brainer. If you have used motor oil it can be recycled and needs to be taken to a proper location. Dumping oil down a drain is never a solution. Some auto shops and filling stations will recycle used motor oil for you.
5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
This three teered system is the best way to reduce waste. First Reduce. Reduce the amount of items you consume especially things that can be replaced with something reuseable, such as a washcloth instead of paper towel. Second, always reuse items rather than use disposable. Anything you do can help, you don’t have to make every change at once. Lastly, recycle. If it is something you have to dispose of, recycle what you can. All of this will reduce the amount you pollute and should also leave a few more dollars in your pocket as well.
6. Reduce auto emissions.
The best way to reduce emissions of your vehicle is to make sure it is working properly and not leaking any chemicals like oil or anti-freeze. The test is to see if there are spots left on the pavement after your car has been setting there overnight.
7. Use insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers, as well as other lawn and garden chemicals, sparingly.
These chemicals should only be used when needed. There is no reason to spray a lawn or garden if there is no known issue that you are taking care of specifically. Use a soil test and use fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides only if there is a presence of the issue. In a small garden, hoeing can often be done more quickly than herbicide application.
8. Start a compost pile.
A compost pile can decompose leaves, grass clippings, and food waste into a great fertilizer for your home garden. It is also just a way to reduce the amount of waste material from the lawn, leaves, and garden. A compost pile doesn’t have to be a big hassle and doesn’t have to smell badly. The truth is a compost pile, that is turned regularly, is a necesary part of a home yard or garden.
9. Soil test before you fertilize.
If you are spending money on fertilizer without testing your soil, you may just be dumping fertilizer in the river and polluting. You may be suprized that you don’t have to fertilize your garden every year. Soil tests are easy to do, collect the samlpe and send it in to MSUE. Here is a link so you can get your soil test this spring.
10. Don’t sweep dirt and fertilizer from sidewalks into drains.
Dirt and fertilizer left on sidewalks should be swept into the lawn rather than washed down the storm drain. Always remember the storm drain leads to streams. Not only chemicals but excess sediment (dirt or soil) is also a pollutant in streams. Save the effort and sweep it back into the lawn.