Household use of water, electricity and cleaning supplies does not start and end in our homes – it has a direct effect on the health of the Catchment and the Bay. Learn how to help the environment and Bay while performing everyday household tasks.
The more water we use, the more that is dumped into our septic systems and sewage treatment plants, requiring more energy use and costly upgrades over time. Fortunately, there are many simple ways you can help conserve this precious resource around your home.
- Fix leaky toilets and faucets. A dripping tap can waste over 60 litres of water per day, while a leaking toilet can waste over 750 litres per day.
- Take shorter showers. Cutting your shower time by five minutes can save 30 litres of water per shower. That’s a potential savings of over 13,000 litres per year!
- Turn off water while you shave, brush your teeth or wash dishes.
- Install water-saving devices, such as low-flow showerheads and dual flushing toilets.
- Put a bucket in the shower or sink to catch water as it “warms up.” Use this extra water to water your plants or fill up pet bowls.
- Only run your dishwasher and washing machine when they are full
Reduce Energy Consumption
Reducing your electricity use will also reduce the amount of energy that needs to be generated by fossil fuel power plants. This will, in turn, reduce the amount of nutrients and chemical contaminants that can enter rivers, streams, wetlands and the Bay via air pollution.
Try these ideas to save electricity – and money!
- Turn off lights, TVs, stereos and computers (including monitors) when not in use.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use fewer watts and last longer.
- Only run dishwashers, washing machines and dryers when they are full.
- Use fans instead of air conditioning when temperatures are not too hot.
- Invest in energy-efficient appliances, such as Energy Star qualified products.
- Instead of using an electric dryer, hang your clothes and sheets outside to dry.
- Make sure your house is weather proof and insulated properly to avoid heat escaping in the winter.
- Unplug mobile phone chargers and similar devices when not in use
Maintain Your Septic System
If your home has a septic system, follow these tips to keep it working properly and avoid polluting the Catchment and Bay.
- Have your septic system pumped out every three to five years.
- Be careful not to flush or pour down the drain anything that will kill the bacteria living in your septic tank. Healthy colonies of bacteria are necessary for the process that treats wastewater and reduces the amount of nutrients that seep into groundwater.
- Try to prevent food waste going down your drains. Compost this waste instead.
- Do not use toilets as rubbish bins.
- Keep heavy vehicles away from your septic system.
- Do not plant trees or shrubs near your drain field. Roots can clog septic drain lines.
- Distribute your laundry washing routine throughout the week to avoid overloading your septic system on a particular day.
Reduce Energy Consumption
Household hazardous wastes (HHW) include paints, cleaners, batteries, motor oil, nail polish, weed killers and drain treatments. Most of us have at least 50kg of HHW in our homes. While some products are essential to our everyday lives, HHW contain chemicals that are potentially harmful to both people and the environment.
While it’s not practical to erase all the HHW we generate, here are some things you can do to reduce the amount of these toxins in your home – and in the Catchment and Bay.
- Become familiar with the dozens of common products in your home, garage and shed that contain hazardous or toxic substances.
- Follow the directions on the label so you use only what’s needed. Twice as much doesn’t mean twice the results!
- Whether it’s motor oil or paint thinner, make an effort to follow the safe (and legal) means of disposal. – Never throw HHW down a drain, into the rubbish bin or onto your lawn or driveway!
- Discover non-toxic alternatives to HHW. There are many fast and easy cleaning recipes using items you probably already have, such as baking soda, lemon juice and corn starch. Also, many companies offer non-toxic, all-natural and environmentally friendly cleaning products.
- Switch from disposable batteries to rechargeable batteries, which can be used again and again.
- Take preventative measures to control pests around the home, rather than using chemical sprays to solve your pest problems.
Other Tips for Around the House
- Participate in your community’s recycling program. The more cans, bottles and paper we recycle, the less space is taken up in our landfills.
- Switch to low- or no-phosphorus dishwasher detergents.
- Never dump used grease, fats or cooking oils down the drain. Instead, store grease in a container until it hardens, then dispose of it in the trash. Some landfills also collect used cooking oil for recycling.
- Cut down on your use of plastic shopping bags by bringing your own reusable bags to the supermarket. If you like to use the plastic ones, recycle them at the supermarket drop-offs or reuse them around the house instead of throwing them away.
- Repair, sell or donate used goods instead of throwing them out.
- Use reusable cups, plates and utensils instead of disposable ones.
- Use Phosphorus free detergents (view information sheet here: Use Phosphorus Free Detergents