A lot of water pollution stems from everyday household habits. Anytime you’re flushing something down a drain — whether it’s the kitchen sink, toilet or curbside gutter — something is being added to our water supply. This is the perfect time to ask: Is anything you’re flushing plastic? Is it chemical? Is there a safer alternative? Check out our top four product swaps for the easiest ways you can reduce water pollution at home.
1. Use Toilet Paper Instead of Wet Wipes
We know how easy it is to pop open the top off a tub of wipes and pull one of these babies out for a surefire cleaning job, but did you know that there’s a better, greener way to clean?
Wipes are made from any combination of polyester, polypropylene, cotton, wood pulp and rayon fibers. Unfortunately, despite their packaging claims, none of them will fully break down in water. They clog up pipes and screens at water treatment facilities — U.S. cities actually spend $1 billion a year cleaning them out of our water systems.
And while they’re stuck, little plastic pieces break off and pollute our water supply. Despite how good our water treatment systems are, we don’t have any good solutions for filtering out microplastics.
As it turns out, wet wipes aren’t good for your tush, either. Even chemical-free ones can do more harm than good. So next time, instead of reaching for a wipe, stick to toilet paper. If you want to take your hygiene to the next level, install a bidet or give yourself a wash the old-fashioned way. If you’re using wipes in the kitchen, stick to paper towels or, better yet, unpaper towels. They’ll keep things clean and sanitary without the plastic waste.
2. Don’t Fertilize: Compost!
Fertilizer is one of the main sources of water pollution. After you use it on your lawn or garden, it inevitably makes its way into the groundwater supply or nearby lakes and streams, with some help from rainwater or your home sprinkler system. When fertilizer builds up in a body of water, it causes harmful algal blooms, which can block sunlight from underwater plants, release toxins or suck up oxygen needed by aquatic life to survive, leading to “dead zones.”
Instead of applying synthetic fertilizer to your lawn or garden, switch to a natural source of plant nutrients, such as compost, fish emulsions or bone meal.
3. Swap Out Synthetic Pesticides for Organic Pesticides
Insecticides and fungicides are another big source of water pollution. Insecticides are designed to kill pests through inhaling, ingesting or pure contact. All three methods make them dangerous to both wildlife and ourselves as they build up over time in our water supply.
There are plenty of natural ways to kill off unwanted insects and fungus, including diatomaceous earth, neem oil, peppermint oil, and hydrogen peroxide. While you’re at it, check out these ideas for all-natural herbicides, too.
4. Clean Your Home with Natural Household Cleaners
Common household cleaning products contain what are called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as phosphorus, nitrogen, ammonia and formaldehyde. Not only are VOCs really bad for you, they build up in our water supply and contribute to harmful algal blooms, alongside fertilizer.
In order to avoid any nasty chemicals, switch to basic homemade cleaners like vinegar and baking soda for a deep clean that’s mystery-free. If that’s not your style, you can use the EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning to look up health ratings for over 2,500 common cleaning products.
Help Us Create a More Sustainable World
At Skyewater Photo + Film, we’ve made a commitment to support programs and nonprofits around the world who are working hard to clean waterways, reduce plastic waste, and improve the global water crisis. Learn more about our donation program, or explore more ways you can get involved and help us make a difference.