Pollution is a large problem in our world. But in a sense, it’s a beautiful one — it is one of the few broad-scope problems that we can all agree on.
While subjects like climate change and nature preservation have taken a regrettable turn into the realm of bipartisan politics, pollution is a phenomenon that is universally observable. It is nearly immune to denialism. It is bursting at the seams with robust data to support its claims. And unlike most problems, almost any one of us could point to visible evidence of it, if asked.
Solving the pollution problem is as pressing as any issue we face. Its solution must inevitably come via many avenues: governmental policy, regulations on industry and better resources for citizens worldwide.
However, the crux of the solution lies with us. Each and every one of us has the power to act on pollution in our day-to-day lives. We have the power to educate ourselves and others, to demonstrate sustainable methods and eco-friendly practices and to take hold of our future. This is an article about small ways to make a big impact on your local environment. With any luck — and a little conversation — those around you can start to do the same.
Use Environmentally Friendly and Safe Products
We live in a time when choosing environmentally friendly products is easier than ever. This is due in part to technological advances, but most notably to market demand for such products. These products come in the form of sustainable, eco-friendly manufacturing and packaging — and companies usually take care to make it clear when their products fit these descriptions.
In economics, there is a concept called the “dollar vote,” which equates purchasing a product with casting a vote of confidence for it. This relates to environmentalism in a big way. Anyone who wants to do their part in benefitting public health can always start by adjusting their own consumption, thereby “casting their dollar votes” for responsible products.
Biodegradable, organic and sustainable products are available to us in nearly every supermarket. Making a commitment to seek them out goes a long way in helping protect the planet.
Recycle Used Motor Oils and Filters
If you are the do-it-yourself type when it comes to cars, then you are already familiar with the variety of fluids that need replacing. Motor oil is one of the most common sources of pollution from car maintenance. Here are some tips to avoid letting it contaminate your home and neighborhood:
- Use a drip pan to collect the drained oil from your engine.
- Keep a large, sealable container nearby to store your used motor oil.
- When the container needs emptying, take it to the nearest center that will recycle it. The same goes for car batteries, oil filters and other waste fluids.
- If a spill does occur, have a bag of kitty litter on hand to sprinkle on top and absorb it.
These precautions are both low-cost and beneficial to you. Used motor oil and hazardous materials get washed into rivers and affect ecosystems and users far beyond your immediate surroundings.
Use a Smokeless Fuel in Your Home and Business
In colder climates, heating our homes and businesses requires a significant amount of energy. Choosing a clean-burning fuel to do so helps improve the quality of our air and reduce pollutants, acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions.
Fitting your house or business to run on cleaner fuels — like natural gas and propane — makes a big difference. A recent study found that the pollution from heating our homes may cause as many as 10,000 deaths per year. Switching to a clean-burning fuel improves our collective quality of life and our health.
Wash Your Vehicle at Car Washes Instead of in Your Yard
When you wash your vehicle at home, all of the runoff — road salt, soap, wax, chemicals and more — gets hosed off your car and into your surroundings. It is then at the mercy of rain, gutters and storm drain systems, all of which ferry it into creeks and oceans. So, while it’s good to take care of your car, doing so at home is detrimental to the environment.
Taking your car to a car wash is a better choice. Proper car washes use closed-loop systems that recycle water. ESD Waste2Water offers such a technology — the Closed Loop Wash Rack — that reuses water, cleans it and complies with regulations set forth by the EPA. This system prevents all the runoff from leaching into the surrounding environment.
Some readers may prefer hand-washing their cars. In this case, there are plenty of car washes that allow you to do so, with convenient spots for hand-drying and waxing afterward.
Drive Environmentally Friendly Vehicles
It used to be that environmentally friendly vehicles were a luxury item. Nowadays, they are extremely prevalent thanks to market demand and can be purchased in a wide range of budgets.
If you are looking for a commuter vehicle and do not need off-road or more rugged capabilities, consider a high fuel-efficiency or hybrid car. These sleek, sporty vehicles will reduce your gas expenditure to a paltry fraction of what it once was while also providing you with a safe, comfortable means of transport.
Full electric vehicles are another enticing option. Each passing day brings lower prices, increased range and a list of features that reads like a commercial for a traditional luxury sedan. Modern electric cars can travel upwards of 300 miles on a charge, have the fastest acceleration of any car on the market and are almost maintenance-free.
Use Water-Based Paints
Doing home improvement projects leads to a lot of wet paintbrushes, which we rinse down the sink while quietly wondering what will come of the paint.
The answer depends on what type of paint you’re using. There are two main categories of paint: oil-based and water-based, the latter of which is referred to as “latex” paint because it contains rubber. Latex paints break down quickly, so rinsing your brushes with soap and water makes it safe for septic and wastewater treatment systems. Oil-based paints require a special solvent in order to break down.
No matter what type of paint you have, do not pour it down the drain. If you need to dispose of a mostly-full paint can, take it to a disposal center or give it to someone else who can use it. If you need to dispose of a mostly-empty can, pour some kitty litter in to absorb the paint.
Report Illegal Dumping
Illegal dumping can lead to health hazards for humans and wildlife alike. Whether it be paints, chemicals, garbage, sewage or other waste, the best way to prevent it from happening again is to report it to the authorities.
When someone dumps illegally and is held accountable for it, it sends a discouraging message to others considering doing the same. Most local governments treat the act as a crime and will investigate accordingly.
Recycle Household Goods for New Uses
Here’s where things really get fun. Try some creative ideas for recycling household goods:
- Plastic bottles into bird feeders: Turn old plastic bottles and ladles into a bird feeder by spearing the bottle completely through with old wooden ladles. These serve as perches for birds. then fill the bottle with birdseed and cut a hole for the seed to tumble onto the ladles.
- Clothespins into hooks: You can paint clothes pins chic colors and screw them to the wall to serve as holders for dish rags, cloths, etc.
- Plastic jug into a watering can: Take a large plastic jug of milk or other liquid and punch holes in its lid. Fill it up and you’ve got a watering can for your plants.
- Milk jug into a shovel: A plastic gallon jug of milk can turn into a gardening shovel with just a set of scissors. Cut at the top of the handle, then cut the shape of the blade below the bottom portion of the handle.
- Turn practically anything into planters: Teacups, styrofoam egg cartons — you name it. If it’s concave and is meant to hold something, it can probably become a planter.
Clean Up After Your Pets
There’s more to this than just being considerate to the next person who goes jogging along the path. Your pet’s waste can carry dangerous bacteria and transmittable diseases into the surrounding water system. These diseases can affect wildlife and people alike.
Whenever you take your pet outside, be sure to carry bags or a pooper scooper along with you. Dispose of the waste by placing it in the trash, where it can go to a landfill.
Dispose of Trash Properly
It’s tempting to throw all of your trash into one can, but it’s important to properly dispose of household hazardous materials. If you are disposing of old televisions, computers, batteries or similar items, make sure to take them to the proper facility.
Similarly, make sure your regular trash stays contained. Keep trash cans covered so as not to be affected by the elements. Things like fertilizers and pesticides are problematic due to their being washed off by rain and carried downstream. Dispose of them and other trash in sealable bins.
Compost Yard Trimmings
Many cities and counties offer compost collection services. But for those who don’t live in such areas, it’s not difficult to create your own composting bin. Simply take a plastic tub and drill holes in the bottom, then fill it with several inches of shredded newspaper and soil.
You can toss in food scraps, banana peels, grass clipping, hair, manure and lots of other organic material. You’ll need to give it a stir every couple of months, but this matter will naturally break down and produce a nutrient-rich fertilizer you can use around your yard.
Not littering is a virtue that’s so ingrained in many of us that it elicits a physical response when we see it done. It’s hard to see another person throw trash out their window. Littering is a problem solved with simple solutions:
- Keep a trash bag in your car.
- If you’re bringing food somewhere, take a bag to bring your trash back in.
- Report littering when you see it.
- Try to buy items that come with biodegradable or recyclable packaging.
Taking part in a little pickup day, solo or with a group, is also a great way to give back to the community while spreading the message that littering is not acceptable.
Ride Your Bike or Walk to Work
Switching from a driving commute to a walking or biking commute is a decision with a lot of advantages:
- It does not pollute.
- It is healthy and the exercise makes it easier to concentrate during the workday.
- It connects you more with your body and the world around you. Driving a car each day can feel sterile and isolating.
- It’s free.
- In many areas with heavy traffic, biking to work can take less time than driving.
If the forecast calls for rain, you can buy waterproof riding gear or simply make a commitment to bike to work whenever the weather permits. Every little bit counts!
Reduce Errands for Fewer Trips
This is a lifestyle shift that is all benefits and no drawbacks. Simplifying your shopping and errand-running trips saves you time, money and mental real estate. Here are some tips for doing this:
- Make a list of things that need to be done or items that need to be purchased for the week.
- If you need to make appointments, try to make them one after the other.
- Plan a day when you can accomplish most or all of them in a single trip.
- Plot out a route that allows you to efficiently move from one place to another without backtracking.
Do Laundry and Dishes Only With Full Loads
Waiting until you have a full load of dishes to run your washing machine ensures you don’t waste a lot of water with each load. Washing machines are made to be efficient, but only when they are used at their proper capacities.
If you do dishes in the sink, doing a large load at once allows you to recycle dishwater and not send an excessive amount of soap and water down the drain. Keep a large drying rack near the sink so you can churn out larger loads at once. Having a pair of rubber gloves and a dishwashing wand also help make it a more pleasant experience.
Use Environmentally Friendly Cleaners
A lot of research has been done to study the influence of cleaning agents on the environment. Soaps and other cleaners have deleterious effects when they reach the natural world. Luckily, lots of companies have spent time innovating biodegradable, environmentally friendly cleaners that work wonderfully.
Today, there is no trade-off between the environmental impact and effectiveness of a cleaner. Many environmentally friendly options exist for dish soap, laundry detergent, multi-surface cleaners and more.
ESD Waste2Water Is Doing Our Part to Help With Pollution
ESD Waste2Water is committed to creating a cleaner, more responsible future with elegant and effective solutions. With ingenuity and care for the planet, we are continuously innovating new ways to keep nature pristine.
Our groundwater and soil remediation systems offer turnkey solutions for contamination from mining operations, farms, chemical usage, wash racks, construction projects and disposal of garbage. This includes systems to perform soil vapor extraction, oil/water separation and more.
Our chemical containment pads allow operators to mix large batches of chemicals without spillage in a wide array of locations and environments. Any spills will automatically flow into the pad’s reservoir, eliminating harmful effects on the surroundings.
Our wash racks allow you to clean equipment without wasting water and creating harmful runoff. This protects your property while also allowing a mobile solution that is EPA-compliant.
Start taking the future into your hands by capitalizing on technology and innovation. Visit our website to study our selection of products or contact us with inquiries.