We fill our pots, bathtubs, sports bottles, and swimming pools with it. We wash the car, the pets, our bodies and the dishes with it. We use it in manufacturing, and rely on it for power. It's essential for life. But it's obvious from the way we treat our water that we don't appreciate the vital importance of it.
It's certainly crucial that we conserve, like turning the tap off while you brush (do you flush the toilet the whole time you are sitting down?). However, I'm writing this piece to splash attention on the stuff we send down our drains because it's coming back up into our lives. Everything poured down our kitchen sinks, bathroom drains, and flushed down our toilets may be out of sight, but unfortunately, it's not out of our world. None of us should be taking a swig of things like rocket fuel, weed killer or Teflon.
As with the most successful recovery programs, if we admit we have a problem and follow these 12 steps, together we'll be setting a course of action for reform.
1. DITCH ALL DIRTY CLEANING PRODUCTS. Many hazardous wastes have labels that say flammable, caustic, corrosive, caution, danger, toxic, volatile, warning or poison -- doesn't that make it clear that you shouldn't be buying these products in the first place? You'll protect drinking water sources. You'll avoid the health risks associated with exposure. Your home will be cleaner than ever. Win. Win. Win.
2. SING THE ABCs. Avoid antibacterial soaps (many contain Triclosan, which is a known pesticide). Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least as long as one ABC song. It's proven to be just as effective!
3. POOP + SCOOP. Think about waste from pets being washed into our storm drains after a storm and end up in our lakes and rivers. Gross.
4. REALIZE THAT THE GRASS IS NOT ALWAYS GREENER. A report titled "Tap Water Blues" (EWG), claims that millions of Americans are routinely exposed to one or more pesticides in a single glass of tap water.
5. TRY NATURAL TREATMENTS. Prozac in my tap water? That is depressing news. Try natural remedies before resorting to medication, if possible. Some filtration plant methods, they don't remove the drugs, hormones, viruses and other synthetic compounds floating through our water.
6. COMPOST. Recycling organic waste from your kitchen and yard and turning it into compost cuts down on garbage you contribute to landfills, is great for your garden and prevents synthetic pesticides and fertilizers from reaching our water.
7. BE A CAR BUFF. Never wash a car on a paved surface using conventional car washing methods. Better alternatives include going to a car wash that at the very least recycles its wastewater. If you prefer to wash it at home, drive it onto your grass... you'll be sure to use something safe, and you'll water your lawn at the same time!
8. READ YOUR TAGS, YOUR STICKERS AND YOUR LABELS. Wear organic, eat organic and shop smart. It takes a lot less water to produce organic foods and clothing. We'll avoid yucky runoff in production, toxic dyes from fabrics that "bleed", and shocking things like lead paint on toys from going into our system.
9. EAT LESS MEAT.Good shows that a hamburger takes 634 gallons to get onto our plates versus a salad taking 31 gallons. If you consider that a standard trash can holds 32 gallons, I bet you realize that choosing organic actually matters.
10. CONSIDER THE CYCLE (if you have one). Since the average woman will use on average 11,000 tampons in her life, choosing organic will have a huge impact. It'll keep harmful dioxins from the bleaching process out of our water systems and obviously, out of us, too.
11. CALL A TAXI. Where do those solvents from washing paint brushes and wood polish go? Dumping hazardous chemicals into a storm sewer means you are virtually pouring them directly into our waterways. And, you wouldn't do that, would you?! If you have them (oops!) and need to get rid of them, simply google "how to dispose of household hazardous waste" in your area and ensure you take care of it properly (but next time, make sure not to buy them in the first place).
12. LET CLEAN WATER FLOW THROUGH. Baking soda, vinegar and water will clear your drains safely. Simple tricks can be found online. It may even bring back memories of elementary science class!
You need to thank your lucky stars if you live in one of the few countries in the world where you can usually drink water straight from the tap... it's as safe or even safer than bottled water. But it's not free, and we shouldn't count on it to flow freely. We all share the same water, and we need to protect it together. Contemplate the changes you can make over a big tall glass of tap water, and remember to go with your own flow.