The water sources across the country are fast becoming exhausted and polluted. Today, around 40 percent of rivers are too contaminated for fishing and swimming, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If people fail to act now, water shortages could be a fact of life a short decade from now.
By simply implementing a few sustainability initiatives to conserve water and prevent pollution, businesses have the power to ensure water sources will remain clean and secure in their area. There are several ways companies in every industry can get involved.
Antibacterial soaps and some cleaning products contain triclosan, a pesticide that harms aquatic life and may lead to the development of antibiotic resistant superbugs. A simple switch to products that do not contain the chemical, such as regular soap, keeps bacteria under control without presenting a risk to water supplies.
Storm drains should only be used for water and never for getting rid of other liquids like motor oil, detergent, paint, chemical cleaners, fertilizer, or pesticides. In many cities, stormwater is incorporated into local waterways, so it really is extra important to keep it uncontaminated.
Keeping paving to a minimum enables water to soak into the ground, diluting contaminants that would otherwise end up in stormwater. At the same time, this reduces the risk of flooding and improves ground water supplies. Businesses can also reduce their use of water by sweeping paved areas clean instead of using a hose.
Fleet and Vehicles
Company vehicles and fleets should have leaks repaired immediately to stop oil and other liquids entering storm drains.
Appliances that use water in the workplace should be water-efficient — dual-flush toilets, for example, where there is less use of water to flush urine.
Native and drought-resistant plants require the least watering and can significantly reduce water use for a company’s landscape.
Pesticides and Fertilizers
Pesticides and chemical fertilizers pollute surface water and ground water, presenting a health risk for employees and residents alike.
Smoking areas should include a cigarette receptacle to dissuade employees from dropping cigarette butts on the ground, where they may be washed into storm drains.
Employers can make an even bigger impact by teaching staff about sustainability initiatives that workers can enact in their own homes. In addition to variations on the above, employees can do the following:
- Never flush medicine down the toilet or drain. If the city has a pharmaceutical collection program, employers should provide staff with this information. Alternatively, it is possible to destroy pills in a bottle using water or vinegar.
- Picking up after pets avoids waste-contaminating stormwater.
- Non-toxic household products reduce the amount of chemicals being released into water supplies.
- Installing a low-flow shower head and cutting the length of showers can reduce water use every day.
For businesses already working on other sustainability initiatives, expanding to water conservation and protection is a great opportunity to make an impact on the local environment. These few simple steps can help ensure that residents and workers in the area continue to have access to a sufficient amount of clean water for years to come.