Water is essential for every living being. Without water, there would be no life on earth. However, humans seem to have forgotten this, since we keep wasting and polluting it. One of the biggest cause of water pollution is industrial waste. Many industrial sites produce big quantities of toxic chemicals and pollutants. Then, these industrial wastes from agricultural sites, mines and manufacturing go into rivers and streams that lead directly to the sea – according to some statistics, every day, 2 million tons of sewage, industrial, and agricultural waste flows into water all around the world. Polluted water is not only unsafe for human consumption, but also dangerous for many water dwelling organisms and for the entire ecosystem. If the biggest quantity of material that pollutes water comes from industries, are we as individuals completely powerless?
A single person does not pollute as a global scale industry, but this does not mean that we have no responsibility towards lakes, rivers, sees, and oceans. In fact, a lot of our daily habits produce a (although small) quantity of pollution. Plus, we are more than 7 milliards people on earth, so we have to multiply our impact on the environment for all the people living on the planet, although a person living e.g. in a metropolitan area probably pollutes much more than a person that spend her life in the countryside. Therefore, besides environmental activism, we can also do something that might seem insignificant, but that is actually good to reduce water waste and pollution. Here some tips:
1) Spare water. You can turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth or shaving, take shorter showers, fix the leaks of your pipes, try to avoid to use your toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket, and turn on the dishwasher and the washing machine only for full loads.
2) Household cleaners like ammonia and bleach are toxic for water organisms. To degreaser, you can use “green” alternatives, such as baking soda, cornflour, and vinegar.
3) Fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides that we use in our gardens to keep the yard good-looking flow through the lawns into the water. You can avoid this by choosing e.g. insectary plants (rosemary, mint, etc.) - those that attract insects such as honeybees, which help repel harmful bugs and pests. Another “green” method that keep away the pests is the use of insecticidal oils (soybean oil, neem oil, canola oil, etc.).
4) Shampoo, bathgel, soap, and other cosmetics are made with chemical substances that pollute the water. You can easily find recipes for home-made products with natural ingredients on internet.
5) Paint, thinners and solvents are also very toxic. Fortunately, many household chemicals can be recycled. In a lot of cities there is a recycling centre that can take the old paint, and other chemicals and recycle them.
6) The oil and other liquids from your car, when leaking, could end up in water tables. It is important to constantly maintain our vehicles, and repair when needed. Anyway, recycling centres in cities might also collect motor oil. However, when the car is not essential, choose public transport or a bike to move around.
7) Not only the motor oil is a source of pollution. Grease, fat, and used cooking oil are also very toxic, as they contaminates local bodies of water. They should be disposed in the trash or kept in a special container for this kind of material. If you pour the oil where you fried your food down the drain, your pipes might also clog.
8) Speaking of cooking, there are also habits of our diet that we can change to prevent water pollution. Eating organic reduces the amount of chemical pollution that ends up in the water from pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers. Furthermore, one should at least reduce the consumption of meat, since farming takes lots of water for hay, corn, and soy that they need. Plus, the antibiotics the animals are provided, tend to end up in groundwater and rivers.
As I said, these are only ways to modify our individual habits, which unfortunately are not enough to save the planet. Political and environmental activism are fundamental to make a difference. However, changing our habits in an eco-friendly way is important to train ourselves on how to be responsible of our own actions and aware of their consequences.