Posts Tagged ‘water conservation’

posted by | on , , | 1 comment

By: Jane Marsh

Environmental consciousness is rising, and civilians are taking action. Electric cars, solar panels and smart thermostats aid residents in shrinking their carbon footprint. Much of this technological action focuses on energy use, forgetting to acknowledge another form of degradation.

As the global temperature increases and glaciers disintegrate, we face a severe threat to humanity. Around one and three people globally lack access to clean drinking water. The decrease in water quality derives from an increase in pollution.

When universal sustainability falls behind, society faces fatal consequences. Fortunately, there are direct actions we can take to conserve the aquatic ecosystem. To evaluate these solutions, we must first unveil the troubles. 

Issues in Sustainability and Water Quality

Dead Zones

Farmers use pesticides and fertilizers to yield more fruitful crops. When heavy rains pass through agricultural regions, the water carries these artificial nutrients away from farms through rivers and streams. The discharge filters into the ocean, where marine life consumes it.

Fertilizers promote the overgrowth of algae that zooplankton consume. The microbial specie’s feces exhaust the ocean’s oxygen, making it uninhabitable to all marine life.   

As oceanic fish and plants die, it leaves the ecosystem off balance, setting a rippling effect throughout the sea. Reducing the number of species that filter bacteria and toxins in the water make for the overproduction of destructing elements. It also limits the amount of seafood available to humans, which some regions rely on for sustained nutrition.There are currently 25% of marine mammals on the endangered species list. If humanity continues to use pesticides and artificial fertilizers in agricultural production, this percentage will increase.

Polluted Reservoirs

Many folks source their drinking water from reservoirs, lakes, and other bodies of freshwater. There are two significant human impacts on the conservation of these water sources.

Eutrophication is the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and water species, which an increase in photosynthesizing elements causes. Like the ocean, fresh bodies of water can experience agricultural runoff, which offsets the organic ecosystem. This harms the filtration process of drinking water.

Deforestation around fresh bodies of water also affects its drinkability. Limiting the number of surrounding trees reduces shade, increasing the sunlight needed to promote photosynthesis. This encourages algae blooms, further destroying the aquatic habitat.

A decrease in bordering trees also increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment. This further promotes photosynthesis.    

Oil Pollution

Offshore drilling poses a significant threat to marine species. As we continue to drive fossil fuel burning cars, the oil demand will remain high. This demand pushes the production of offshore drilling.Oil spills, leaks, and mismanagement of rigs cause the oil to enter the ocean. This material cannot disintegrate and forms a thick sludge. The substance suffocates fish, blocks sunlight from plants, and destroys ocean floor habitats.

Sustainable Solutions

Humanity may engage in various sustainable actions to limit environmental degradation and increase Earth’s water quality. Enhancing aquatic habitats, reducing pesticide use, reducing stormwater runoff and limiting fossil fuel usage can conserve the purity of bodies of water.

Aquatic Aid

We can support endangered species by preserving their habitat. Built-up sediment and debris at the bottom of lakes and reservoirs constructed by runoff limits aquatic homes. Humans can take action to rebuild this region.

One can utilize dredges to remove harmful buildup on the bottom of a body of water. Digging up and vacuuming away this contaminated sediment allows for aquatic species to flourish in a supported environment.  

Organic Alternatives

Farmers may also reduce their pesticide use to limit oceanic degradation. Rather than using toxic artificial fertilizers and chemicals, producers can utilize organic alternatives.

To keep grasshoppers from disrupting crop growth, farmers can plant calendula, cilantro, or horehound around the perimeter of their land. They can also ward off mice by planting mint and peppermint, two herbs that they despise.

There are various other sustainable gardening solutions that farmers can use to limit pesticide and fertilizer runoff. One can also reduce the amount of water traveling through agricultural regions by collecting and reusing rainwater.     

Rainwater Harvesting Systems

To reduce the number of chemicals and debris carried into the ocean and freshwater sources, one can install a rainwater harvesting system. The technology collects and stores rainwater for residential usage. They vary from advanced techniques to manual aids.

Some barrels hold stormwater and purify it. Homeowners can use the water for showering, washing clothes, and drinking. Basic systems do not filter water, but homeowners can still use it for irrigation, washing cars, flushing toilets and more.

Reusing stormwater reduces environmental degradation caused by runoff and water waste.  

Renewable Energy Sourcing

Society can reduce its carbon emissions by limiting the demand for offshore drilling. Utilizing renewable energy sources to fuel cars, home heating and more can reduce this demand.

Citizens may install solar panels on homes, commercial buildings and farms to limit our need to burn fossil fuels. One may also use wind turbines to source renewable energy to fuel their life. As we reduce our carbon emissions, we limit the amount of oil in the ocean and the climate changes.

Consumer Education

Individuals’ actions influence the sustainability of the planet, but the impact is limited. To access global conservation, we must have difficult conversations with community leaders and government officials.

Prioritizing water conversation can reduce degradation and the threat to clean drinking water. You can talk to your community about adding solar panels to commercial buildings and rain harvesting systems throughout your county. One may also vote to restrict pesticides and artificial fertilizers from the agricultural industry.

When we all work together, we can access sustainable solutions. These actions can preserve the amount of seafood available to coastal residents and species and adequate hydration.

Jane Marsh is an environmental writer. You can keep up with her work on her site Environment.co.

posted by | on , , , | 3 comments

By: Angela Trenkle

Photo Credit: Angela Trenkle, on November 8th 2020 at Great Falls Park in Virginia

If you are a resident in the DC Metropolitan area, chances are you have come across the Potomac River in some form, whether it is the river proper or one of the river’s tributaries, the mighty Potomac River is a landmark of the area in the same way that some of the famous buildings are in the downtown DC area. There are tales of the Potomac that stretch back to some of the nation’s earliest presidents reaping its benefits. If rivers could talk, the Potomac would have an endless number of historical accounts to pass along for the world to learn.

Photo Credit: Angela Trenkle, on November 8th 2020 at Great Falls Park in Virginia

Today, the Potomac River watershed is home to approximately 5 million people as well as millions of animals and plants that depend on it for its many resources. Clean drinking water is at the top of the list followed by food sources for both humans and animals that occupy the watershed. The river is also utilized by hundreds during the warmer months of the year for recreational activities, including, but not limited to, kayaking, fishing, hiking, bird watching, and stand-up paddle boarding.

Photo Credit: Angela Trenkle, on August 8th, 2020 at Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge on the Potomac River

For a period of time from the 1960s to the late 2000s, the Potomac River was in a state of decline and poor health. Water clarity was at an all time low, trash and algae were abundant, and native fish suffered because of the urban runoff that was making its way into their homes along the river. This has begun to turn around since the beginning of the 2010s, thanks to several key processes that were put into place. 

One such process is the creation of the Potomac River Report Card. The report card, which began in 2007, provides residents of the watershed an easy format to view the different aspects of the river in terms of its health and the areas in which it improves as well as declines. This gives residents of the watershed a visual of what is happening and the areas that they can target for improvement. Thanks to this report card, in addition to the other processes put into place for the river, the Potomac has gone from an abysmal grade of “D” in 2007 to a peak grade of a “B” just three years ago in 2018. In 2020, the grade slipped slightly to a B-, showing that the river recovery is plateauing. Now is a turning point to ensure that it does not slip any further.

Photo Credit: Angela Trenkle, on November 8th 2020 at Great Falls Park in Virginia

To ensure that the flora and fauna thrive as well as make sure that our grandchildren can appreciate the river in the same way we have, you too can do your part to make a difference. Some ways that you can help include:

  1. Participating in stream cleanups to prevent water pollution and premature death of wildlife.
  2. Planting trees as forest buffers to cool stream temperatures and create forest corridors for animal travel.
  3. Use your voice to advocate for stronger water protection laws. 
  4. Donate to organizations that are working towards protecting the Potomac River and its tributaries.
Photo Credit: Angela Trenkle, on August 8th 2020 at Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge (See left of photo)

As you can see, there are many benefits to the Potomac River not only for us, but for the animals and plants that depend on it for survival. By each of us doing our part and coming together with a common goal to make a difference, we can ensure that the Potomac is around for many generations to enjoy.

***

Angela Trenkle is a scientific technical writer who was born and raised in Maryland. Her love of science combined with her passion for writing led her into the field of scientific technical communication at a pre-clinical research organization where her work involves contributing to the documentation of study reports for various infectious diseases including COVID-19. Preserving the natural world is an important goal for her and she plans to use what she has learned over the years to help do her part in restoring local watersheds for future generations to enjoy. When she is not working, she enjoys reading, writing, traveling, running, weightlifting, and spending as much time outdoors as possible.

posted by | on , , , , , , , | 2 comments

By Amy Loder

As an EcoWoman, you recycle, use reusable shopping bags and bring a water bottle wherever you go. But are you being mindful during your morning routine?

When I took a look at my morning routine, I decided to make some changes that are better for my health and kinder to the environment too.

NaturalBeauty

1. Shower Power

My shower goals: to use less water and choose products that are both good for my body and less harmful to the water supply.

For body: Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap is ethically-sourced and is made with certified fair trade ingredients, plus it’s manufactured in the USA and packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottle.

For body: My Salux Beauty Skin Cloth. I’ve used loofahs in the past, but this bad boy really does the trick. Plus, it reaches every spot. The cloth is washable and reusable. I pair the cloth with Dr. Bronner’s soap, and don’t need to use an additional exfoliation product.

For hair: I use Duross and Langel, a Philadelphia-based, independently-owned business. They make all of their products by hand on the second floor of their retail shop. I order online which means packaging and fuel consumption with every purchase, but these impacts are minimal.

Shower Tips:

  • Just say no to microbeads! You can learn more on this topic by checking out Robin Garcia’s DC EcoWomen blog post.
  • Take shorter showers and turn the water off while you soap up and exfoliate. When you’re ready to rinse, turn the water back on.

2. Skin care routine

My skincare goals: Cleanse, moisturize and prevent sun-damage and wrinkles while doing the least harm to my body and the planet.

For gentle cleansing: I’m a devotee of Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash. It is widely available, and it’s fragrance and dye free. (Disclaimer: it’s a Johnson & Johnson product, so manufacturing practices and possible animal testing are something to take into consideration).

For deep cleansing: Glycolic-based products are great pore cleansers, encouraging skin cell turnover and preventing blemishes. I use M-61 brand products, which are created by the D.C.-based entrepreneurial duo that founded Blue Mercury. No parabens, sulfates, fragrances or dyes.


  • Parabens are preservatives and prevent bacteria growth in products. Sulfates are synthetic ingredients that make products nice and foamy. Most scientists and doctors say both are ok to use, but I prefer to avoid these when possible.
  • Fragrances and dyes can be irritating to the skin and potentially hazardous to your health. The majority of manufacturers don’t disclose fragrance ingredients on websites or product labels.

For moisturizing: Anything La Roche Posay. This company scores well with cosmetic watch groups when it comes to human-friendly ingredients. This moisturizer allows me to skip foundation entirely; I create my own by mixing the Anthelios tinted and un-tinted SPF mineral moisturizes.

There are many similar products available, these are my favorites, which are yours?

3. The natural deodorant debate

SkinProductThere are conflicting reports about the potential health implications of antiperspirants. I’ve decided to err on the side of caution, so I’m a natural deodorant convert.

Several girlfriends helped me field-test a variety of natural deodorant brands. We compared notes on product effectiveness and scents. Here are my top two recommendations:

Dermalogica Environmental Control Deodorant This is the most effective for when I exercise. This product is gel-based, free of potentially-irritating Aluminum Chlorohydrate and S.D. Alcohol and it lasts forever. I use it regularly, alternating it with my other go-to favorite.

Priya Means Love makes an amazing spray product. Bonus: Priya is based in Baltimore, so your money supports a local woman who creates wonderful, natural products.

Note: It’s important to find a product that works well with your unique body chemistry. It might take multiple attempts to find the brand that works well for you.

4. Coffee

coffee-beans-759024_960_720Several months ago, I read an article about the number of paper cups consumed by American coffee drinkers each year. Appalling!

I’m a five-day-a-week, coffee on the go consumer. If my buying habits are continually creating waste, then I’m doing more harm than good. Buh-bye paper cups!

KeepCup saved my morning routine. These reusable cups come in recycled plastic or glass and in a variety of standard barista sizes. Now I make coffee at home or take my KeepCup to a local coffee joint for a fill up.

How are you making your morning routine green? Please share your best tips in the comments.

5. The more you know

I like to stay in-the-know about new developments that help keep my morning routine nice and green. Here are my top three favorite websites for eco-friendly style and beauty news.

The Environmental Working Group I’m especially fond of the “skin deep” page  – you can look at the ingredients and health scores for your favorite skin care products.  

Ecouterre This is my go-to website for the latest info on eco fashion, sustainable style, organic beauty products and ethical apparel.

Mother Nature Network This is a fantastic site focused on environmental news, being socially responsible at home, healthy families, green living and everything in between.  

Editor’s note: While DC EcoWomen does not endorse any specific products or services, we do endorse a conscious effort to live with the environment and sustainability in mind.

Amy Loder is a personal stylist and a Business Development Director at Blackboard Inc., a firm specializing in higher education technology and solutions. Amy has extensive experience in both the fashion industry and business development. She is passionate about women creating their most authentic personal style and using human and environmentally friendly clothing and products.