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What You Can Do At Home

For more information on what you can do please check out the Homeowner's Guide to the Coastal Bays.
Gardening may seem like an environmentally benign activity, but many of us lack the know-how or time to keep dandelions off the front lawn or moles out of the yard without a helping hand from chemicals or other pollutants. Pesticides and herbicides not only kill your garden marauders, but also sabotage the ecosystem and contaminate the coastal bays. 
Wherever possible, replace lawn space with native plants. Native trees, flowers and shrubs do a much better job of filtering nutrients and chemicals and slowing runoff rates than turf. Indigenous plants also require less fertilizer, watering, and pesticides than lawns.
Below are some tips for making your yard an environmentally friendly one.
  • Limit your use of fertilizers. If you must fertilize, choose a fertilizer that has at least 1/4 its nitrogen in a slow release, water insoluble form. Have your soil tested to determine the appropriate amount to apply. Do not apply fertilizer within 50 feet of a water body. Over-fertilization can make lawns more attractive to disease and pests.
  • Build a rain garden and install a rain barrel.
  • Encourage natural pest predators such as ladybugs, toads, and garter snakes.
  • Use pesticides, herbicides and other garden chemicals sparingly, if you must use them at all. 
  • Compost garden trimmings into natural fertilizer for your garden. If you must use conventional fertilizers, look for slow-release products to minimize excess nitrogen runoff. Never deposit leaves or grass clippings in ditches or streets where they serve as a direct nutrient source to the coastal bays.
  • Compost for free mulch and fertilizer.
  • Water your lawn only once per week. Daily watering of lawns keeps roots at the surface which causes damage to your grass.
  • Mow your grass only as short as three inches. Grass stays healthier and grows faster when it's cut longer. Close-cut grass loses thickness, requires more water, and is prone to disease.
  • Plant native plants and trees. Native plant and tree species help prevent excessive nutrient and pollutant runoff into the bays. Trees also convert greenhouse gasses and clean pollutants and nutrients from the air. Atmospheric deposition accounts for one-third of the nitrogen inputs into the coastal bays.
  • Native plants require no fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides because they are adapted for the coastal bays environment. This is also why native species are so important for indigenous birds, frogs, butterflies and other animals.
The photo at left is an
example of a residential rain garden.
For a publication on how to install your
own rain garden, click HERE.
Car & Garage
Dozens of simple, everyday car maintenance tasks contribute pollution to our estuary. Just throwing away an old battery, washing the car, or driving can add up to a significant threat to the coastal bays ecosystem.

The millions of cars traversing our highways leave dozens of pollutants in their wake. These car-related pollutants are degrading water in the coastal bays, particularly in the bays north of the Route 50 bridge. Airborne emissions alone account for one third of the nutrients entering the coastal bays.
  • Don't dump used oil, gasoline or other automotive products in the toilet, sink, storm drain, street gutter, or on the ground. Treat rags laden with paint, gasoline or solvents as hazardous waste. Oil, gasoline, and antifreeze are toxic.
  • Recycle motor oil, batteries, tires, gear lubricant, brake and transmission fluid by placing them in strong plastic containers and taking them to a gas station, service station, marina or to the transfer station in Berlin.
  • Pump gas and change fluid carefully to avoid spills on the ground. Place a drip pan under your work area. Pour kitty litter, corn meal, or sawdust on spills and allow clean up after several hours.
  • Wash your car with as little soap as possible. Soap is toxic to fish and shellfish. Get a pistol grip hose nozzle to conserve water. Dump the used bucket of soapy water in the toilet or sink, not the street or storm drain. Wash car on grass or gravel, where soap suds can better filter through vegetation before entering the coastal bays. Avoid car washing on paved areas.
  • Maintain air conditioning to prevent freon leaks. Run air conditioner once every two weeks to keep seals from cracking. Freon is a chloroflourocarbon which contribute to the thinning of the earth's ozone layer.
  • Ask your mechanic to practice environmentally sound shop management and CFC recovery.
  • Get regular tune ups.
  • Keep cigarette butts in the ashtray.
  • When purchasing a car consider the mileage it will get and calculate your potential savings. The average person drives more than 10,000 miles per year, making the money savings from 15 to 30 miles-per-gallon astronomical.
  • Drive 55. Driving 55 mph improves fuel economy by 15 percent over a 65 mph speed.
  • Have your wheels aligned and keep your tires inflated properly. Low tire pressures wastes more than 2 million gallons of gasoline in the U.S. every year.
  • Car-pool. Automobile exhaust is a major source of pollutants and nutrients to the bays. Use public transportation, walk, or bicycle whenever possible.
  • One quart of spilled oil will produce an approximately one-acre oil slick or contaminate 250,000 gallons of drinking water.
  • The average person drives more than 10,000 miles per year, making the money savings from 15 to 30 miles-per-gallon astronomical
  • Driving 55 mph improves fuel economy by 15 percent over a 65 mph speed.

In Your House

  • Store kitchen and garden chemicals carefully in labeled, air-tight containers. If you spill something, do not wash down the area. Contain or absorb the spill with sawdust or kitty litter and place the used absorbent in a strong plastic bag in the trash. If it is a large spill, take the used absorbent to a household hazardous waste collection center or event.
  • Read labels before buying household cleaners and other products. Become an environmentally friendly consumer by avoiding products containing certain ingredients. These harmful ingredients are listed in the homeowners guide on page 10: Homeowner's Guide to the Coastal Bays. Products labeled "caution" are usually the least toxic. "Warning" indicates moderate toxicity and "danger" or "poison" mean extremely toxic.
  • Use safe substitutes. Most cleaning challenges can be met with baking soda, salt, borax, vinegar or elbow grease in one combination or another.
  • Buy only as much of a household chemical as you need. Why pay extra and let some chemical sit around the house for years? Use cleaners, paints and other chemicals sparingly and minimize waste and spills. Store leftovers in sturdy, airtight, labeled containers. Use things up or give them to friends.
  • Do not pour paints, preservatives, brush cleaners, or solvents down the sink, toilet, or storm drain. Clean up brushes and buckets at the sink, not the gutter.


Chemicals & Their Alternatives

Take care with chemicals. Almost three-quarters of Delmarva's coastal bays have unacceptably high chemical levels. Apply pesticides sparingly and never dispose of detergents, paints, oils, or wood preservatives in storm drains or septic systems.
Substitute bay-friendly cleaners for abrasive ones. Use chemicals less often or rotate use with non-toxic chemical alternatives listed below.

  • All purpose cleaner: add a cup of vinegar to a pail of water or mix liquid castile soap and baking soda or borax in like amounts to two-gallon bucket.
  • To disinfect: 1 cup borax or sodium carbonate dissolved in a gallon of hot water.
  • Wash glass with one part vinegar to every four parts water as, if needed add 3 teaspoons of ammonia.
  • To deodorize carpet: sprinkle with baking soda and vacuum 30 minutes later
  • Oven Cleaner mix 2 teaspoons of borax and 2 tablespoons of liquid soap in a spray bottle of water and scrub. Or try baking soda and steel wool.
  • To polish furniture: mix 2 tsp of lemon oil and one pint mineral oil in a spray bottle
  • Tub and tile: 1/4 cup baking soda, « cup vinegar, 1 cup of ammonia and one gallon of water
  • Drain Cleaner: 1 cup of each; baking soda, salt, and white vinegar. Pour into drain, wait 15 minutes. Flush with boiling water.
  • Stainless steel polish: baking soda or mineral oil for shine
  • Mildew remover: Lemon juice (or white vinegar) with salt
  • Pesticide alternative: 2.5 T-spoons of liquid soap, with 2.5 teaspoons in a gallon of water.
  • Surface cleaners: Mix one quart warm water, one teaspoon mild dishwashing liquid, one teaspoon borax and a splash of vinegar.
  • Linoleum Floor Cleaner: Mop with one cup of white vinegar mixed with two gallons of water to remove dull greasy film.

Water Conservation

The water you use in your home comes from the ground which is replenished by rainwater. The more freshwater you use, the less there is for wildlife, farming, industry and wetlands. Farmers and wildlife need water too. Remember 40 percent of the water you use in your home is flushed down the toilet.
  • Machine wash only full loads of laundry and dishes.
  • Take short showers instead of baths.
  • Choose low-flush toilets.
  • Place one or two half-gallon bottles in your old toilet to reduce water used for flushing.
  • Don't let tap water run while brushing teeth, washing dishes, or shaving.
  • Install low-flow shower heads and faucets and fix any leaks immediately. Ask your hardware store and about water-saving devices for shower heads, faucets and garden hoses. Always use a trigger nozzle on your hose.
  • Adjust household water pressure to 30 psi
  • Use front loading clothes washers which use half as much water as top loaders.
  • Install a new high performance, water-saving showerheads and faucets.
  • It will cut the cost of your showers in half. The cost is minimal and they are east to install.
Recycling is an important way for individuals and businesses to reduce the waste they generate and reduce the negative impact of that waste. Recycling conserves our natural resources, saves landfill space, conserves energy, and reduces water pollution, air pollution and the green house gas emissions that cause global warming.

Together, Reducing, Reusing, Recycling and buying Recycled products make up a comprehensive waste and resource reduction strategy that benefits our natural world and our economy. Read these facts below for more information:

  • Making products with recycled material slows the depletion of non-renewable resources such as metal, oil and natural gas, and reduces the encroachment of new mining and drilling operations.
  • Conserving renewable resources through recycling also helps preserve undisturbed land and natural diversity by reducing the amount of land needed for agriculture and timber production.
  • It generally takes less energy to make products with recycled materials than virgin materials, often significantly less. For example, it takes 20 times more energy to make aluminum from bauxite ore than using recycled aluminum. Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a computer for 3 hours.
  • Benefits of reduced energy consumption include reduced costs and reduced dependence on foreign suppliers.
  • Keeping recycleable items out of our landfills keeps air and water cleaner, reduces the need for Ohio to build new or expanded landfills, and conserves resources by putting existing materials back to good use.
For recycling drop off locations in Worcester County click here.
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program