BY: NADIA ZAIDI
The Great Lakes are an endangered resource. Growing up, I was one of those kids who thought the environment wasn’t my problem. Who cares if I won’t be around to witness the season’s shift? But I eventually developed a consciousness when I realized that my actions did have consequences, and even if it meant that I wouldn’t directly experience them, it was wrong to be part of the cause.
Look, I’m not going to stop using hairspray or adopt an entirely eco-lifestyle because I want to save the great lakes from drying up. I’m not that person, but I’m also not the person who refuses to do my part anymore.
To those of you who may be in a similar position, this one’s for you.
Here are some super simple things to STOP doing in order to help mother earth:
Swap that face wash with the micro beads for one without
Small plastic beads (known in the science world as micro plastic), make their way directly into large bodies of water. Water filtration systems at treatment plants cannot filter those micro beads simply because they are too tiny. To make matters worse, aquatic species like turtles and seagulls think those beads are food sources. Many times, those beads disrupt their digestive systems by blocking off pathways in their stomachs and digestive tracts.
It’s almost hard to believe, but these small chains cause a big disruption in the food chain. When fish mistake the beads for tiny eggs, these microplastics end up acting as sponges that absorb other pollutants such as motor oil, and pesticides.
This renders smaller fish poisonous – and the bigger fish who feed on them become a risk factor to the humans who consume them. Food for thought!
Additionally, the reason that filtration systems aren’t able to eliminate micro beads is also because the beads float, and water treatment processes do not deal with floating matter.
So if we know that cosmetic products can potentially harm us, why aren’t we stopping it? Well, it’s like pharmaceutical companies that continue to market medications that pose greater harm than good. It’s an industry that cannot be stopped overnight. Environmentalists and scientists aren’t whispering their concerns to big companies.
The Great Lakes provide water to over 42 million people. What happens to them directly impacts us, and should be viewed as a cause for great concern and action.
Don’t put yard waste in the streets
A lot of times, people tend to sweep leaves and grass onto their street. Well, that waste ends up in storm water systems. And guess where this eventually dumps? The Great Lakes. Not only does this pollute our waters, but it also contributes to algal blooms, which eventually decrease oxygen levels in the water. Make sure that you compost any yard waste rather than sweeping it into the street.
Swap you toxic cleaners for green ones
It’s not only good for your health, but for the Great Lakes. Every time you use those harsh chemical cleaners it ends up in sewage treatment systems that are not designed to eliminate chemical contaminants from wastewater. This means that it taints our lake waters.
There are many natural resources that clean just as good, if not better, than commercial ones. In fact, mixing household cleaners create toxic gases, which can potentially kill you when inhaled.
Adopting these easy, yet incredibly effective, lifestyle changes will not have a big impact on your own life, yet will make a huge difference for our beautiful lakes.