Waterwise Wednesday: Hazardous Household Cleaners

Photo © Johanna Goodyear

Household cleaners we use to sanitize, degrease, whiten and wash can also harm water. The “Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)” – Phosphorus, nitrogen, ammonia are common ingredients in cleansers.

Phosphorus composes 30 to 40 percent of dishwasher detergents. Ammonia is included in products for degreasing, sanitizing and removing allergens. Nitrogen is found in glass cleaners, surface cleaning products, and floor cleaners.

Nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia cannot be removed by waste treatment processes. Instead they enter waterways, build up and cause accelerated and excessive growth of some types of plant life including algae. The dense vegetation clogs waterways, crowds out animal life and other marine plants.

The large amount of plant material also depletes oxygen in the water as it decays. The lack of oxygen in water suffocates freshwater marine life, further degrading the water with decay.

Choose, or make, cleansers free of VOCs. So when you clean your home, your water stays clean too.

Waterwise Wednesday: Save Water, Navy Shower

Trying to save water? Try the Navy shower.

1. Turn on the water and take one minute to get wet.
2. Shut water off, lather body with soap.
3. Turn water back on to rinse for a minute.

The average shower takes about eight minutes and 20 gallons of water (at a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute). Adopting the Navy shower or a 3-minute shower technique uses about 7.5 gallons and saves over12 gallons per shower.


Waterwise Wednesday: Homemade Windshield De-Icer

Our dry winter weather typically only requires a simple scraping while blasting the defrost to clear car windows. But if you need a quick windshield de-icer this week here’s some recipes to try:

1. Isopropyl alcohol and water: Mix two parts 70% isopropyl alcohol and one part water in a spray bottle.

2. Saltwater: Mix water and a teaspoon or two of salt. Road salt for best effectiveness.

3. Buy a commercial de-icing spray.

Use any of the above sparingly, just enough to get the ice melting. Then lightly chip away the ice and brush it away. Excessive amounts of the spray can cause damage to your car windshield, paint, or surfaces where the ice and melt land (e.g., dormant plants) from the salt or chemicals.

Waterwise Wednesday: 100% Infiltration

Photo: Salp Chain by Kevin Lee

“The thing that truly surprised me the most was that every salp, regardless of year collected, species, life stage, or part of the ocean collected, had plastic in its stomach,” says biological oceanographer Jennifer Brandon.

Salps are small transparent sea creatures that feed constantly on nanophyto- or microzooplankton while swimming in all of the worlds seas and oceans. The microplastics they ingest are as small as 10 micrometers, smaller than the width of a human hair. The 100% ingestion rate is alarming since salp digest their food in two to seven hours.

Brandon warns, mini-microplastics in the salp could make their way into the human body through the seafood we enjoy that eat salp. More than one-third of mini-microplastics found were synthetic fabric fibers from polyester or nylon. Car tires were the second-leading source, which release plastic particles as they erode.

Waterwise Wednesday: Change Your Life Challenge 2020

Looking for ways to save water, energy, money and waste less?

Take a peek at the Change Your Life Challenge 2020 (CYCL 2020) based here in the Nebraska Panhandle.

It’s a year long facebook-based community group exploring a different theme each month with weekly challenges to help transform living habits to be more sustainable, environmentally friendly, energy efficient, or a combination thereof. Several local businesses and entities have partnered in an effort to connect residents with helpful resources and information to become more efficient stewards of resources.


https://www.facebook.com/groups/489003041692075/

Waterwise Wednesday: Winter Water Tips

Photo © Valdore

Use the cold weather to try some indoor water management.

1. Check for leaks and fix right away. A 1/32 inch hole can leak 6,000 gallons of water per month.

2. Install faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads to use less water without compromising flow in the bath and sinks.

3. Place a jug of water or brick in the toilet tank to displace water and use less per flush or replace the toilet with a Water Sense high-efficiency model that uses 1.28 gallons per flush or less.

4. Wash full loads, many washing machines don’t adjust for load size and run 40 or more gallons of water per cycle. Make best use of the water by washing only full loads or remember to set your machine for a lesser load, if it can be adjusted.

5. Insulate your water heater and water pipes. Check the water heater tank for an R-value of at least 24. If its not, insulating your water tank could reduce standby heat loss by 25%–45%.

Waterwise Wednesday: Save Water, Save Energy

Save water and save the energy required to pump, process, heat, transport, and treat it. Friday, January 10 is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day designed to help reduce the impact of energy expenditures, both financially and environmentally.

– Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the energy required to heat water.

– Turn the ice maker in your freezer off to reduce freezer energy usage by about 20%.

– Check and fix leaks in toilets, faucets, and other appliances that use water.

– Upgrade to Water Sense and Energy Star appliances that use water and energy more efficiently.