Nobody wants to be a polluter, but sometimes it just happens without trying. The good news is that it’s pretty simple to stop water pollution and help preserve fresh, clean drinking water — because, you know, we need it to live. Here are some easy steps to take right now to help keep our water pure:

  1. Break up with your garbage disposal. Instead of tossing scraps into the Insinkerator, get a compost bin for uneaten food, and use the compost for gardening or have your garbageman (or woman) haul it away.
  2. Use a waterless car-washing product to save gallons of water and prevent grime from running into the street and down the gutter. Ecotouch is just one brand.
  3. Use nontoxic cleaners. When you use chemical laundry soap, dish soap and  countertop cleaners, you’re pouring toxins down the drain. Use toxin-free versions, like my DIY laundry detergent.
  4. Don’t flush tampons, paper towels or other garbage down your toilet. That’s what the trash can and recycle bin are for.
  5. Don’t pour medicine down the drain. The same drugs that cure your headache or strep throat can poison fish and other wildlife, so look for a medicine takeback program near you. Most municipal water-treatment plants don’t screen for drugs, which means your antibiotics and painkillers could end up in a lake or ocean.
  6. Wait until you have a full load before running your dishwasher or washing machine. By running your machines half-full, you’ll use twice as much water and soap to wash the same amount of stuff.
  7. Don’t fertilize your lawn this year. Better yet, skip the grass entirely and use native plants to make your yard beautiful. Fertilizer runoff causes serious pollution, and your lawn may not even need the extra help. Some programs, like this one in North Carolina, will analyze your soil sample to see if you need to use any fertilizer.

While we’re on the subject, you are drinking tap water instead of bottled water, right? Drinking water out of a plastic bottle is toxic for  your health, and contributes to the mountains of garbage that make up landfills. Even recycling water bottles takes a lot of energy and resources. Plus, many plastic bottles end up in the sea, polluting the ocean water that fish, coral and other sea life count on to survive. So get a filter, and don’t buy water-filled trash (basically what a bottle of water is).

Water Pollution Facts

Here’s why it’s so important to keep our water clean:

  • Thanks to climate change, we can expect rampant water shortages, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. In fact, the NRDC predicts that more than one-third of counties in the continental U.S. will have droughts by the middle of the century.
  • Polluted water is the single biggest health risk in the world, says NRCD. People in undeveloped countries often don’t have clean drinking water. Most Americans do — for now — so let’s protect it.
  • It’s  far easier to keep water clean than to clean polluted water, if we even can.