Once upon a time companies could dump their toxic waste into water ways. These toxins would make their way through the water ways into the ocean where they would poison the species living in the seas. These creatures would die or would be fished and end up on the tables of families all over the world. So the Clean Water Act was created and companies toxic waste disposal was regulated and it didn’t end up in the sea. At least corporate waste didn’t end up in the sea, individuals household toxic waste still did.
Today, the most harmful pollutants don’t come from companies dumping but from diffused sources such as your kitchen sink and sewer. Remember in Finding Nemo when Gill says, “All drains lead to the ocean,” well he was correct. When you pour your household toxic waste down the sink or flush it down the toilet it enters either you sewer or septic system. If you are hooked up to a sewage system your toxic waste flows to a central sewage plant is treated and then discharged into your area rivers lakes and streams. Most sewage plants use bacteria and organisms to decompose waste at the treatment facilities, toxic waste can pass through these and end up right in the ocean! If you use a septic system your toxic waste goes into your buried tank, the solids settle and the remaining fluids go into a drain filed. Toxins can then pass into your soil and then move to your ground water. The toxins can then pass to your waterways and head to the ocean or flow to your garden and contaminate your plants (so much for using organic fertilizer, your plants are getting toxins anyways). So how do we avoid this? Dispose of your house hold toxins properly!
The Environmental Protection Agency says to “reduce, reuse and recycle.”
Reduce the amount of toxic products. Start by purchasing less products that contain toxic ingredients. Take the time to look for toxic alternatives, the green industry is booming and there are tons of all natural products out there!
Use up your entire product. When products are used fully and properly as they are intended there is no hazardous waste. Store the products that you have properly. Keep the bottles tightly sealed in their original containers and never remove their labels.
Recycle your waste. Check with your local waste management department to see how to recycle your toxic waste. In the state of California we have a Household Hazardous Waste Program that recycles all kinds of items like batteries, light bulbs, items containing mercury (thermometers, greeting cards that play music, and shoes with lighted soles), electronic devices, aerosol cans, and tons of other items (if you live in California and want a full list of items visit the California EPA site http://www.calepa.ca.gov/pressroom/Releases/2006/PR7-020906.pdf). Many cities have toxic waste pick up right alongside your recycling and trash. Also check with your local mechanic and gas station many will recycle your used car batteries, oil and transmission fluid.
Keeping the toxins out of our waterways is our responsibility. Do your part in keeping our oceans clean and our fish friends healthy!