Easy Steps to Prevent Pollution in the Great Lakes

1. Maintain and inspect your septic system every three to five years to ensure it is not releasing wastewater into waterways.

More than four billion gallons of wastewater are dispersed below the ground’s surface every day. Ground water contaminated by poorly or untreated household wastewater poses dangers to drinking water and to the environment. Malfunctioning septic systems release bacteria, viruses, and chemicals toxic to local waterways. When these pollutants are released into the ground, they eventually enter streams, rivers, lakes, and more, harming local ecosystems by killing native plants, fish, and shellfish. Maintaining a septic system is often cheaper than completely replacing one and can prevent pollution of our waterways. 

2. Go to the car wash or wash your car on the grass not your driveway.
This practice prevents grimy road dirt, salts and soap from moving with the wash water down the driveway and into the storm drain that empties into a stream or rive

3. Sweep dirt and fertilizer from your sidewalk and driveway back into your yard with a broom. 
Hosing dirt and fertilizer off hard surfaces flushes it directly into the storm drains and eventually into creek, streams and rivers.

4. Dispose of any hazardous household products or chemicals at approved hazardous waste collection sites.
Emptying such products on the ground, down the sink or toilet or into storm drains directly pollutes our water and environment.

5. Recycle your used motor oil at service stations in your community that accept used oil.
Never pour oil or automotive fluids down storm drains or onto the ground where they will enter creeks, streams, rivers or groundwater.

6. Pick up pet waste.
Pet waste contains E. Coli which is harmful to humans. Rain carries fecal matter containing E. Coli into water bodies and poses a health concern to people.

7. Reduce auto emissions with regular auto maintenance, car pooling and use of public transportation when possible. Fix oil, transmission and radiator leaks in your car.
Leaking automotive fluids can wash off roads, driveways and parking lots into creeks, streams and rivers during rain showers.

8. Use insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers, as well as other lawn and garden chemicals, sparingly and always follow label directions!
Following the label directions and never increase the recommended amount or apply if rain is forecasted to avoid these products washing into our waters.

9. Collect grass clippings and leaves and start a compost pile as compost is an excellent soil conditioner for flower and vegetable gardens and a beneficial way to dispose of yard waste.
Never use storm drains, lakes, or water ways to dispose of yard wastes as this adds unwanted nutrients that contaminate our water.

10. Reduce salt usage. Driveway salt can increase chloride levels in surface waters and become toxic to wildlife at high levels.  Use sparingly, or find a more safe alternative.

11. Plant a rain garden in a low lying area of your yard. Rain gardens help reduce flash flooding by slowing the movement of water as well as filters the  stormwater coming off your property. 

12. Reduce microplastic pollution in the Great Lakes. 

Top 5 Things You Can do to Reduce Pollution From Microfibers

  1. Get a filter for your washing machine (330 microns or less, like the Fitrol or Lint Luv) so it captures microplastics before the waste water enters the waste water treatment (or septic) system.
  2. Use laundry devices that capture fibers during the wash cycle such as Cora Balls or GuppyFriend Bags.
  3. If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, get a front load machine instead a top loader (fibers shed less in front load machines.) Ask washing machine companies to include filters with their products, like the Xeros system.
  4. Wear clothes made with natural fibers or look for synthetic/cotton blends, which shed less, and try to wash your synthetics less frequently.
  5. Contact your favorite large clothing manufacturer (those that use synthetic fibers, like athletic clothing) and ask them what they are doing about microplastic pollution from their synthetic fiber products.

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