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This is a guest post by Sarah Harris
The old tradition of you and your kids washing the family car in the driveway on a Sunday afternoon is slowly turning into an environmental nightmare. While most do not realize what harm this simple household chore can inflict on the environment, rest assured that it’s not worth the small amount of money saved on taking the car to a commercial car wash. Simply put, the water that runs off your dirty car goes directly into storm drains, which then runs into rivers and streams and eventually pollutes the oceans and its millions of aquatic inhabitants. Unlike excess water waste from your home, that goes through treatment before it is discharged into the environment, water from washing the car, which contains elements of gasoline, oil, and exhaust fume residue, all go straight into our delicate environment.
Although reports differ, the estimate is that the average home car wash uses 100 gallons of water. A commercial car wash is estimated to use around 45 gallons per car. If you must wash at home, there are a few things you can do to help counteract too much water usage. First, use an adjustable hose nozzle. These cost a mere $10 and allow you to adjust water pressure and most importantly the amount of water by shutting off when it’s not being used. Second, park your car either on a lawn, gravel, or dirt surface. This allows the runoff to soak into the grass keeping it green, or if it’s gravel, to easily percolate into the soil below. This should only be done with environmentally safe detergents and cleaners.
Again, if the absolute need arises to wash the car at home, there are now options to wash without using water at all. Lucky Earth and Eco Touch offer products that require no additional water. They are easy to use, typically by spraying the dirty area and wiping clean with a cloth. While this may not be the best approach with a car covered in mud and dirt, it’s a great solution for mildly grimy cars. And in addition to using no water, these products are all safe for the environment as well as the consumer. And remember, by not washing your car at home, or using better methods of doing so, you can very easily add to a wide variety of simple ways to practice sustainable living. Living our lives never again has to mean trampling the abundant environment we all use and cherish.
In addition to reducing waste and pollution, using reusable bottles can definitely save you money. The average person will save at least $34/year and the average family of four will save at least $136/year. Here are the top ten ways to make those savings pile up fast:
10. Send your children to school with tap water in reusable bottles instead of bottled water for their snacks and lunches.
9. Pack a drink with your brown bag lunch to eat at work.
8. Bring reusable bottles for everyone on car trips so you don’t have to buy overpriced drinks at rest stops.
7. When going to exercise, make your own sports drinks using powdered concentrate.
6. Fill bottles with tap water for the whole family when you head to the beach, mountains, museum, or amusement park for the day.
5. Send your kids with extra bottles of water to all day events, meets, and tournaments in case tap water isn’t readily available.
4. When you’re on the go running errands for several hours, bring a drink in your reusable bottle to keep your thirst quenched.
3. Don’t forget to bring water for yourself when you’re going to watch your children compete.
2. Bring your own margaritas or favorite mixed drink in your reusable bottle when you dine at BYOB restaurants.
1. Although I’ve certainly never done this, you could sneak your own tap water into the movies in small reusable containers.
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