Understanding Your Impacts
Everyday we are using resources and producing waste. We put a preat deal of strain on the earth, so it is important for all of us to understand our impacts and learn what we can do to live more eco-friendly lives. The average American household consumes over 100,000 gallons of water and generates over 22 tons of carbod dioxide every year. The United States is responsible for 21 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, yet we have less than 5 percent of the world’s population. We can and must adopt a more eco-friendly way of living if we are to have a promising future.
A Thirsty Nation
In the last few years, global warming has received all of the press. But shortages of fresh water are arguably the greater near-term environmental threat in many corners of the globe. In the Western United States, major die-offs of salmon have been attributed to too little clean water flowing downstream after cities and farms pulled out their allotments. In Australia, as much as 25 percent of farmland may soon be degraded due to water-related problems. And, many predict that future wars in the Mid East are as likely to be about water as they are to be about religion or energy.
Environmental Impacts of Excessive Water Use.
Fresh water is at present a somewhat local commodity. Unlike some of the other environmental impacts we discuss on this website, such as petroleum use or global warming, water use in the United States primarily affects U.S. residents (except for some limited overlaps with Mexico and Canada). This could easily change – the only thing that prevents the shipment of water over much larger distances is its weight and relatively low cost today compared to other commodities. And, in almost all other regions in the world, water supply issues are increasingly of international concern.
Polluted runoff is a major problem throughout the United States and the rest of the world. Whenever it rains, a toxic soup of chemicals and bacteria flows out of our cities and fields and into our waterways. Eventually, these pollutants can lead to the poisoning of aquatic wildlife or the creation of vast dead zones where there isn’t enough oxygen for marine life to survive. And, our beaches and rivers can be unsafe for swimming and other recreational activities due to high bacteria levels and other toxins.
1. Capture and Reuse Stormwater for Irrigation.
2. Reduce Paved Surfaces.
3. Plant Trees that Grow over Paved Surfaces or Rooftops.
4. Practice Good Housekeeping.
5. Clean up After your Pets.
6. Reduce use of Toxic Pesticides and Herbicides.
7. Use Lower-Strength Organic Fertilizers.
Susan Keen - Portland State University