How to be a Citizen for Clean Water

Living a clean water lifestyle means being environmentally conscious while doing everyday activities. Everything on the planet is a cycle, and one thing directly affects the other. Making good choices based on methods like “reduce, reuse, recycle” and “awareness, advocacy, and activism” is key to conserving our waterways. Here are some steps you can take to be a contributor to change.

1. Switch to Reusables and Limit Use of Plastic

Plastic as thin as a plastic bag can take up to 100 years to biodegrade. Polyethylene (PET) plastics, which most containers and bottles are made of, are non-biodegradable. Eight million tons of this plastic waste enters our oceans each year- on top of the 150 million pounds currently there, which has affected our marine life tremendously. Plastic has been found in 60 percent of seabirds and 100 percent of sea turtle species. And with plastic production and consumption escalating at its current rate, we could face 250 million pounds of plastic in the ocean in the next 10 years. To put that into perspective, that’s one pound of plastic per three pounds of fish.

Let’s show big business we mean business and reduce plastic consumption. Switch to reusable products. Instead of plastic grocery bags, bring in your own canvas bags. Instead of buying water bottles, refill a reusable one. Stainless steel and glass containers and mugs can outdo plastic. When plastic is the only option if you’re out somewhere, make sure to recycle. This is not the solution though- we have to change our habits to get corporations to start using alternatives in their products.

2. Be Conservative with Paper and Recycle

Paper production is a serious issue. While the U.S. holds about five percent of the world’s population, we use more than 30 percent of the world’s paper. Half of the world’s forests have been cut down and continue to be cleared at the rate of 30 acres in 20 minutes. This leaves us with absolutely no forests in the next 100 years and the loss of 28,000 species. Deforestation also affects the water cycle and the water table, resulting in a drier climate.

A similar mantra to plastic, reduce your use of paper and make sure to recycle it. Use the technology we have available. Save things electronically, opt for paperless communication for bills, subscriptions, etc., use a tablet instead of a hard copy, and so forth. If everyone who still gets a physical copy of the Sunday paper switched to reading online, we could save half a million trees per week. Another thing you could do is plant some trees- they absorb carbon out of the atmosphere and produce clean, fresh oxygen.

3. Don't Waste Water

Close to three billion people on this planet do not have access to potable water, yet, 95 percent of the water we run in our homes in the U.S. ends up straight back down the drain. In fact, most countries use only three gallons of water or less per day- in America, that’s about one toilet flush.  Three and a half million children die every year from water-related diseases- that’s 6,000 per day.

Save water as much as you can. Fix leaky faucets, which can waste more than 2,000 gallons per year. Don’t use sprinklers- more than 50 percent of landscaping water goes to waste because of evaporation or runoff. Instead, collect rainwater to use for watering plants or washing the dog even. Don’t run water while you brush your teeth, scrub your hands, wash your hair, etc. And make sure to wait for full loads when doing things like running the dishwasher or washing machine.

4. Reduce Use of Harmful chemicals

As groundwater flows it picks up the metals, chemicals, and bacteria that has seeped into the earth. Industrial discharges, pumping, agriculture, and waste disposal are huge factors that contaminate the water. Pesticides, fertilizers, and leakage from septic tanks, for example, not only affect the water table but also can end up in the well water many people draw from. Another big component of toxic water is the chemicals we use every day in our homes. Cleaning products like toilet bowl cleaner and detergent are drained back into the water supply. The chemicals found in most common cleaning products have been linked to infertility, birth defects, cancer, asthma, and more.

Try making your own non-toxic cleaners with safe ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. Avoid synthetic fragrances, air fresheners, etc., that pollute the air and seep down into groundwater. Don’t use pesticides on your lawn and make sure to take off your shoes before entering your home so you don’t bring chemicals like these to breathe in your house too.

5. Don't Litter

Do you know what the number one piece of trash found in the ocean is? Cigarettes butts. Number two is paper and plastic bags followed by wrappers, cans and bottles, and plastic ware like forks and straws. These top five things that make up the hundreds of millions of pounds of debris floating in the ocean are all small items that can be simply thrown into a garbage or recycling bin. It takes years for these items to break down and even longer in the ocean. Cigarettes take 1-5 years, plastic bags take 10-20, plastic bottles can take up to 450 years and fishing net and glass bottles can take thousands.

Dispose of waste properly. Even when you’re out, there’s always a garbage can not far away. Participate in local efforts to clean up trash. C4CW hosts periodic beach cleanups we invite you to join in. But if you happen to see any trash while you are at the beach, be kind to the sea and marine life and pick it up and throw it away.

6. Buy Deliberately and Educate Others

Try to buy products that are alternatives to things like paper and plastic and do not contain toxic chemicals. Look for items that are labeled recycled or BPA-free, etc. We need to show industries that we do not support using components that are harmful to the environment and will not purchase commodities containing such.

Teach your friends and family to be environmentally conscious. Practice good habits and share information to influence the people around you. This is why C4CW is so big on education and spreading awareness. If it becomes important to all of us, we can create change and have a world of clean water.