Of course you can’t protect all the water in the world, but there are many simple things you can do such as keeping contaminants from polluting our water resources and using our natural resources wisely.

Each of us must do our part – we can’t sit back and rely on others to make sure the world is a safe place to live now and in the future.

By becoming an environmental steward, you will identify your behaviors that may harm the environment and take steps to reduce or eliminate these behaviors.

  • Every thing you do influences the environment
  • Never underestimate the impact of a single action
  • These single actions leave lasting impressions
  • Learn and apply the water best management practices listed below

How do your individual actions or behaviors impact the environment?

Whether you realize it or not, every single thing you do impacts the environment. Take a look at the following list to see how your behaviors compare to those of a true environmental steward. You may be surprised to find that you are already doing many of these water best management practices.

If you discover you aren’t already implementing many of these practices you may wish to evaluate which changes are easiest for you to adopt first.

Everyone can’t do everything, but everyone can do something!

Easy Things you can do to Prevent Pollution in local waterways and the Great Lakes

  1. Use a water bottle and fill it from your faucet rather than buying individual bottles of water.
    This practice helps to conserve water, eliminate additional manufacture of plastics and reduces plastic ending up in the Great Lakes.
  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 river.
  3. Pick up after your pet. Stormwater transfers E. Coli from pet waste into surface water.  Keep canoeing and swimming safe by properly disposing of pet waste.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Purchase products that are recyclable and reusable, and recycle these products such as cardboard, paper, plastic, aluminum and glass.
    Products that are recyclable use less resources when reused and don’t go to the landfill or waterways.
  8. 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.
  9. Garden safe. Lawn pesticides harm aquatic life, and fertilizers can cause algae to overgrow and destroy river habitats.  Limit usage or use environmentally friendly alternatives when possible.
  10. Mulch mow leaves. Excess leaves can clog street drains.  This can cause flooding, and decaying plants also rob surface water of oxygen, harming aquatic life.  Mulch them with your lawn mower and let them fertilize your lawn.  Otherwise, rake them and bag them so they don’t blow into storm drains. 
  11. Leaking automotive fluids can wash off roads, driveways and parking lots into creeks, streams and rivers during rain showers. Oil directly pollutes our waterways when a rain event carries it into local creeks, streams or lakes. Ensure you take care of an oil leak right away. 
  12. 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
  13. Clean your septic. Keep your septic system well maintained. Septic systems can leach E. Coli into the watershed.
  14. Reduce microplastic pollution in rivers, streams and Great Lakes.
    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.

It All Adds Up

Adding your actions to those of other individuals in your community can lead to a large positive impact on the environment! The things you do don’t just affect you – they affect everyone since we all live connected watersheds.