By Laura Turner Seydel
Last year we spent Earth Day distraught over the monumental oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This tragic event, resulting in over 4.9 millions of barrels emptied into our precious coastline eco-system, was a big eye-opener for many, but truth of the matter is that various forms of pollutants and chemical toxins threaten our rivers, lakes, streams and oceans on a daily basis.
Being an essential element to life – water covers two-thirds of our planet and consumes 75 percent of our bodies – it is more important than ever that we join the scientists, ecologists and environmentalists in “going blue” this Earth Day to help keep our planet’s water healthy and thriving.
Here in Atlanta we have over 71,000 miles of rivers and streams, which sounds like an abundance of water, but according to The Atlantic magazine, Atlanta is one of the 10 metro areas in the country most likely to run out of water. And to top it off, over 1,000 miles of rivers and streams in Metro Atlanta fail to meet water quality standards and many waters have yet to be tested.
To help improve the quality of our water, take your lawn into consideration and reduce the amount of chemicals and pesticides you use in your yard, as rain creates a runoff that leads these chemicals to our rivers and streams. Choose toxin-free pest control and lawn management products like those from EcoSMART (ecomart.com), the only pesticide on the market labeled as “safe.”
A great resource to help you create your own toxic-free lawn is the Sustainable Sites Initiative (sustainablesites.org), a voluntary set of guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices that you can apply to your own backyard. Just recently our home, EcoManor (ecomanor.com), became one of the initiative’s pilot projects after we took the toxic-free, green garden pledge for our lawn.
Also, adhere to all city and state water regulations when it comes to when and how often you water your lawn (visit atlantawatershed.org/WaterRestrictions for the most up-to-date information).
In Georgia we are dependent upon groundwater, as it is the majority of our population’s drinking supply. It is important that we become conscious of the water we use on a daily basis and conserve where possible. Did you know that by simply turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth you can save almost 5 gallons of water per day?
Think about installing EnergyStar rated appliances and water-saving faucets and showerheads throughout your home and program your thermostat to reduce the amount of energy you consume. It takes about 800 gallons of water to produce 1-megawatt hour of electricity and, on average, the a typical American household uses 936-megawatt hours of electricity per month.
Lastly, build a relationship with our river – join Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper on one of their many summer Paddle Trips (Chattahoochee.org/paddle-trips), volunteer on one of their river clean ups (Chattahoochee.org/cleanups) or simply signup for their eNewsletter, RiverFLASH, to be in-the-know with the issues, news and events surrounding the river.
You can also party the night away at the River Revival on Thursday, May 19, at Park Tavern in Midtown, where a lineup of bands and SweetWater Brewery come together to raise funds for our river (chattahoochee.org/river-revival). The more you become connected with the river the more inspired you will be to save it for future generations.
So this month, as you recommit yourself to reducing, reusing and recycling to “go green,” become inspired also “go blue” to conserve and preserve our precious waterways.