10 Ways You Can Fight Pollution

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10 Ways You Can Fight Pollution
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Pollution is everywhere -- in the water and in the air, and combating harmful agents should be a top priority for families. “Parents should not have to worry about whether or not it is safe for their children to play in the nearest lake, river or shore,” said Pamela Crouch of Orange County Coastkeeper, an environmental protection nonprofit organization. Promote a healthy lifestyle by fighting pollution with simple changes to your daily routine. The result? A better quality of life for you, your family and your community.

Recycle
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Recycle

From boxes to milk cartons, you can fight pollution by recycling those everyday household items. Recycling is less energy-intensive, said Anca Novacovici, founder of Eco-Coach, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental sustainability advisory firm. For example, when paper is recycled, the production and pollution from paper plants decreases. “Since most energy in the U.S. is from polluting fossil fuels, less energy consumption equals less air and water pollution,” said Novacovici.

Buy Organic
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Buy Organic

Fighting pollution can be a tasty adventure for all ages. Choose organic food to preserve water sources. “Organic foods are grown without excessive application of pesticides and fertilizers, which eventually wash into our rivers, lakes and oceans, harming aquatic life and fisheries,” said Novacovici. “Prevent water pollution by supporting environmentally friendly food.” From beef, cheese and beans to melons, salsa and coffee, organic food can offer a tasty alternative and a viable way to fight pollution.

Avoid 'Smelly' Plastics
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Avoid 'Smelly' Plastics

Your family’s quality of life can often depend on the quality of air. Fight air pollution by reducing your family’s exposure to polyvinyl chloride, otherwise known as "smelly" plastic, said Novacovici. “It’s a type of plastic that releases organic compounds as offgassing,” she said. “Many chemicals in this gas are toxic and often cause respiratory problems, irritation and some are carcinogens.” As a result, the air quality indoors is often worse than outdoors due to toxins present in homes where PVC products are used.

Reduce Daily Consumption
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Reduce Daily Consumption

Opt for a meatless Monday and fight pollution at the same time. According to Chris Hunt, senior policy advisor for the GRACE Communications Foundation in New York, reducing consumption of meat, eggs and dairy products can help fight pollution. “The production of meat, eggs and dairy products is much more resource-intensive than fruits or vegetables,” Hunt said. “When these foods are produced on industrial livestock facilities, they also cause significant pollution.”

Reduce Food Waste
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Reduce Food Waste

Approximately 40 percent of food is wasted in the U.S., according to Hunt, thus creating pollution both during disposal when methane gas is produced by landfills and during the production, processing and distribution of the food before it’s thrown in the trash. “Reducing food waste is super easy by planning better and saving leftovers,” said Hunt. “It’s also great to compost food that does end up being discarded to prevent production of methane in landfills.”

Use Low-flow Showerheads
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Use Low-flow Showerheads

Help fight pollution by saving resources and energy while still enjoying the long, hot shower you crave. Low-flow showerheads use just 1.25 to 1.5 gallons of water per minute compared to 2.5 for standard fixtures, said Hunt. By using a low-flow showerhead, each bather can save 3,650 gallons of water annually, Hunt said. This reduces the energy needed to heat, treat and transport water, ultimately saving bathers anywhere from $46.59 to $77.17 per year.

Do Not Overwater Lawn
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Do Not Overwater Lawn

Reduce urban runoff polluting the waters in every region by curbing your outdoor water habits, said Crouch. Many times, homeowners water their sidewalks more than the yard when sprinkler nozzles are not directly aimed at gardens and grasses. “Or, they just overwater so that the excess water runs into the street,” said Crouch. Urban runoff from excess street drainage pollutes nearby lakes, rivers and shores.

Driveway Don'ts
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Driveway Don'ts

Urban runoff spans beyond watering your lawn. Even washing your car in the driveway can pollute local streams as water makes its way down the street and into storm drains. “It collects all the pollutants along the street and goes unfiltered into the nearest water body and eventually to the ocean if you live in a coastal area,” said Crouch. “As stated in the Federal Clean Water Act, everyone deserves the right to swimmable, drinkable and fishable water.”

Reduce Electronic Waste
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Reduce Electronic Waste

That old computer or outdated cell phone thrown in the trash may be contributing to pollution by taking up space in a landfill. Only 11 to 14 percent of unwanted electronics are recycled in the United States, said Natalie Baum of Florida-based Creative Recycling Systems. Recycling electronics can reduce waste and pollution that evolve from local landfills both locally and globally, since most computers, appliances and electronic devices are often shipped overseas or discarded in incinerators and local landfills, said Baum.

Drive Wisely
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Drive Wisely

Save money on gasoline and reduce air pollution at the same time with simple tips to keep you driving safely on the road while being environmentally friendly. When filling up, avoid spilling gas or topping off the tank. Filling your gas tank during cooler temperatures can also cut down on evaporation, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Give your car a rest and use public transportation, bike to your destination or join a carpool.

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