It is near impossible to try and survive one day in our society without using water or a product that has used water. From waking up – brushing our teeth, washing our faces, making breakfast, going to work, and everything in between, we use gallons upon gallons of water every single day.
This water is usually treated and reused, but also frequently left in a degraded state afterwards from either chemical or plastic pollutants that find their way into our waterways. Water pollution from run off affects the amount of available oxygen in aquatic habitats and can actually create dead zones. Plastic pollution has a very physical affect and can alter whole food webs. The bioaccumulation of small micro plastics can be eaten by animals and passed through the food chain, eventually being ingested by humans as well. This is why it’s important to be aware of the amount of plastics we use and how we discard them. For example, the use of microbeads in soaps and cleansers reach our local aquatic habitats and affect our native fish populations.
How can we help during the holidays?
- Save water! Clean freshwater is one of the most precious resources on earth. In Canada we are very fortunate to have some of the most available clean freshwater in the world, and we can sometimes take that for granted. Try to lower our water usage, and make sure we aren’t wasting water in our daily lives. This could mean using less single-use plastic items, recycling and reusing clothing, and even turning of the tap when we brush our teeth. During the holidays, be conscious about how much wrapping paper we use. A lot of it is single use plastics. Looking into wrapping products that are made of recycled materials, or switching to cloth is a great substitute.
- Switching to green products. Trying not to use harsh chemical weed killers or harmful household chemicals. Advising and educating our friends and families about the connection to water can make a big difference. Fertilizers and chemicals we use on our lawns and in our gardens can directly affect the neighboring habitats – especially if you live in a small town or have a ground-water system. When our sidewalks and driveways get icy we usually look to salt as the answer, but living so close to a large body of water can elevate salt levels. Instead, try using sand for added traction, or beet juice as salt-free substitutes.
- Reduce your waste! Making sure we don’t introduce unnecessary waste into our environments, including plastics, clothing, and packaging (present wrap). This can help reduce the amount of plastics that enter our landfills, lakes, rivers and oceans. It is always nice to pick up a hot beverage during the holidays, and we can all do our part by trying to remember to bring re-usable containers when stopping by our local coffee shop.
- Recycle! Try to recycle your water, and items that consume a lot of water when they’re produced. This could mean using the water from a bath to water plants, as well as recycling old toys and clothes you don’t use anymore (toy drives are great). Clothes and plastics consume a lot of energy and water to produce, and throwing them out means they’ll take hundreds of years to degrade in a landfill. Instead, try and recycle or donate these items, it also gives back to your community and helps out people who can’t afford to buy new ones, or are more interested in reducing their waste! Buying recycled items is also a great way to save money, energy, plastic and water use.
- Be aware of things you consume, and their water needs. Drinking juice uses hundreds of litres per glass! Sometimes it’s best to stick with drinking just water. Same thing with where our food comes from- how far away, and how much energy is consumed producing and transporting it. Eating local foods saves a lot of energy and oil from transportation. Buying local meats and vegetables during the winter is a great way to save energy and support our local farmers. Turkey dinners are very popular during the holidays, and buying from local supplies is a great way to start the season.
- Spread awareness! As important as our actions are, doing things as a whole makes an even bigger impact for our habitats. Spreading knowledge to our friends and family can increase our affect positively! Join community groups and promote activities like shoreline cleanups to help reduce our pollution, and help keep our water bodies safe!