Caitlin Towle, Grade 6
Mrs. Marotta, Teacher / St. Mary of the Hills School, Milton
"Step Up Our Game"
I did a study in an average home (my home, actually) to see where the most danger was in terms of hazardous waste products. In my house I found that the place we most needed to change our habits was in the kitchen and bathroom. This makes sense because while people need to paint their house or change the oil in their car sometimes, we use our kitchens and bathrooms every day.
My parents knew that they weren't supposed to pour oil or chemicals down a sewer or drain but had no idea how many harmful products they were pouring down the kitchen sink and flushing down the toilet. If other homes are like mine, it seems to me the best place to start to protect our water supply is to focus on the places where most people spend most of their time, their kitchens and bathrooms.
In my house, I found that a lot was wasted on floor and bathroom cleaners: money and virtue to the earth (tee-hee). So I researched other ways to keep these places clean. I found that a better way to clean floors is to use is a mixture of a 1/8 -cup of liquid soap, a ½ cup of vinegar, and two gallons of water. All you do is scrub the floors. If you have no-wax linoleum floors, then it is better to leave out the vinegar. You save money and keep your home safer.
A really irritating thing that happens a lot in my house is there are funky smells coming from my drain because my parents cook a WIDE variety of foods. (Trust me, the food is great but the smell from the drain can be powerful!) I found two ways to get rid of these odors. First, never pour cooking oil down the drain or garbage disposal. Keep a container for used oil in your kitchen and dispose of it the same way you would paint or other chemicals, by bringing it to a place that can dispose of this waste. Second, pour a cup of lemon juice and a quart of cold water down your drain. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then pour a quart of boiling water down slowly.
I went on the Internet with my parents and we found that filling a jar halfway with strips of aluminum foil, then adding a tablespoon of salt and filling with water is a great way to clean jewelry. We also found that mixing 1/4 cup each of vinegar and baking soda and pouring it down the drain, then pouring a quart of boiling water down 15 minutes later is a great way to fix clogged or "slow-moving" drains.
Now that my family understands that there are other safe, eco-friendly ways we can keep our home clean without using chemicals that can be harmful to our surroundings, all that's left for us to do is to step up our game. If other families do this too, then we can keep the environment and the water supply safer for a much longer time.
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