Imagine that you spot your neighbor changing the oil of their car in the driveway. Instead of recycling the used motor oil, they pour it out onto the street. City streets are lined with storm drains, which in turn drain into creeks and streams that lead to rivers and lakes. Once it rains that used oil needlessly poured on the street will make it’s way to local water sources contaminating them.
One quart of used motor oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water and is very difficult to cleanup. In fact, it’s much easier to collect the oil to recycle than to remove it from a water source. Once used motor oil is in the water is can cover the surface of up to 2 acres of water. If recycled however, used motor oil can be kept out of waterways. Mobil Oil states that One gallon of used oil provides one gallon of fuel oil, or if highly refined, 2.5 quarts of lubricating base oil.
Next week, the Environmental Protection Agency is promoting Pollution Prevention Week as a means to encourage residents and business owners alike to reduce waste and prevent pollution at the source. According to the EPA, pollution prevention “means reducing or eliminating sources of pollution to prevent damage to the environment while also eliminating the need for costly controls and cleanup.”
The great thing is that anyone can help prevent pollution right where they are. Afterall, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Here are a few tips that individuals can take at home during P2Week and anytime of year. Most are simple and low-cost to implement. Choose one or two you can do this week to get started on the path to a lifestyle with less contamination.
When it comes to your vehicle, have the pros change the motor oil and filter. Certified and properly trained oil change services also have the right equipment to change, recycle, or properly dispose of the automotive waste. Keep your vehicle properly maintained so it runs efficiently and gets good gas mileage. Properly running vehicles reduce air pollution and emissions. Reducing the load on your vehicle also helps.
If you have a garden or yard at home you can help reduce pollution and contamination by choosing more environmentally friendly pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers. These chemicals can be spread by water run-off after it rains, or you water your lawn. When using chemicals in your lawn and garden, follow the instructions and only use the amount you need. Instead of chemicals consider using natural alternatives like nutrient rich compost and integrated pest management techniques.
In your home aim to reduce contamination of water by maintaining septic tanks, plumbing, toilets, and more functioning properly. A septic tank overflowing, for example, can contaminate soil and groundwater with bacteria, nitrates, bacteria, and microorganisms like E coli. Septic tank systems should be inspected annually, and pumped every three to five years regardless of the apparent need to clean them out. Regular maintenance is key to preventing pollution.
Managing waste at home is another way to reduce contamination. Properly dispose of household garbage by collecting it in a trash bag and depositing it your garbage cart. Reduce litter, trash in the wrong place, by closing the lid properly and not overfilling the cart. If you recycle at the curb in Dalton place paper and lighter containers in the bottom of the bin and heavier items on top.
If you take your household garbage and recyclables to a drop off site or convenience center in Whitfield County be sure to properly secure your load. Loads that are not properly secured and cover could end up on the road as litter, possibly striking other vehicles leading to accidents. Reduce the amount of waste you have in the first place by choosing items at the store with less packaging materials, using reusable shopping bags instead of plastic ones, and using reusable plates and utensils instead of the single-use disposable versions.
Learn more about Pollution Prevention week, also called P2, and how you can help prevent pollution year round online at www.epa.gov/p2week, or follow on social media with hashtag #p2week. Find out where you can recycle and properly dispose of a variety of residential items in Whitfield County on the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority website, www.DWSWA.org, or call 706-277-2545.