Gabrielle Rodman, Grade 11
Ms. Lockett, Teacher / Notre Dame Academy, Hingham
"You and Your House May Be Clean, or So They Seem, Read Along I'll Show You What I Mean"
There is certainly nothing more comforting than to walk into your home when it has been freshly cleaned. It’s wonderful to wake up in the morning and take a nice hot shower, giving your own body a good cleaning with shampoo and soap. And, after that nice, hot shower, there is nothing better than stepping into those freshly washed jeans. But, right below the surface, literally, you are probably polluting your water supply.
While the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (“MWRA”) regulates industries within the areas it services in an effort to reduce water pollution, thre are no such regulations either state or federal, that regulate the amount of toxic substances, which are vast, that enter, and exit households ever day in Massachusetts. Even though households and what takes place within them seem far removed from the activities that goes on within industries, the reality is that some of the very same toxins used by industries are being used in our homes every day.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, water is one of the biggest environmental issues facing the 21st century. Despite the progress made by legislation such as the Clean Water Act, more work needs to be done and we can do something about decreasing water pollution by starting with what we do in our own homes.
So, if you like to enter a freshly cleaned home, well that’s great. But every time you put detergent in your dishwashing machine, wash your clothes with laundry detergent, scrub the toilet and bathtub with disinfectants, you are not only causing potential health risks, but you are affecting your own water supply and polluting it.
The answer is relatively simple. Numerous everyday household cleaning products, such as dishwasher and laundry detergents, contain products such as phosphates and chlorine. When they leave the dishwasher or washing machine, the chlorine combines with organics in the sewage resulting in extremely dangerous and toxic chemicals called trihalomethanes. Similarly, many of the cleaners used in the bathroom contain ammonia, bleach and lye that can end up in the sewer system and eventually in the Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay.
Moreover, what safer alternatives to household products can we employ to help make a more positive impact on the water quality where we live? There are numerous things we can do and should do. First, we can use household products that that are non-toxic. Companies such as Vitasalus, Inc. and GAIAM sell a variety of cleaning agents that use natural formulas free of acids, toxins, and ammonia for doing laundry, washing dishes, cleaning tubs and toilet bowls.
If your store doesn't carry these products, request that they do. If cost in purchasing these products is a factor, well, you can make your own all natural cleaning agents. For example, windows can be cleaned with a mixture of water and vinegar or a spray bottle of club soda. Tubs and bathroom tile can be cleaned by mixing baking soda with water and then rinsed with a 50/50 water/vinegar rinse. Clean yoUr wood floors with lemon juice and olive oil, clean your carpets with baking soda, and wash your hair with honey, vinegar and lemon juice. There are websites that can provide you with all of this information and more.
If you must use products that contain harmful toxins than ensure that you are disposing of them properly. Keep those paints, used oil, cleaning solvents out of drains, sinks and toilets. Find out about hazardous waste collection sites in your community and, if no program is available, request one. Don't flush non-degradable products such as disposable diapers or other sanitary products down the toilet. They can damage not only the sewage treatment, equipment, and machines, but can ultimately end up polluting waters.
So, you can have your clean clothes, you can have your clean house, you can have a clean body. How, by putting a little more thought and effort into the products you purchase, using all natural ingredients, and thinking a,bout what you are doing the next time you por something down your drain.
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