Every year on World Oceans Day, the United Nations celebrates the important role oceans play in our lives. Oceans provide most of the oxygen we breathe and absorb about 30% of the carbon dioxide that humans produce. Freshwater sources such as rivers, lakes, reservoirs and groundwater provide the essential water we use every day. However, many of our water sources are at risk of contamination and depletion from pollution and climate change.
Oceans are experiencing a growing amount of plastic waste that impacts the health of humans, animals and plants. In the United States, many regions face losing a third of their freshwater supply in the next 50 years. Although the challenge of protecting our waterways is daunting, individuals and organizations can adopt achievable solutions that help protect water sources. Companies can implement facility management best practices for reducing chemical pollution, water and plastic waste.
Our Water Sources Under Threat
Oceans are an essential resource, not only for buffering rising temperatures, but for sustaining life every day. Oceans are the primary source of protein for more than three billion people worldwide and the primary habitat for countless marine species, many of them undiscovered by humans. However, an estimated 11 million metric tons of plastics enter the ocean annually and threaten marine life that often ingests or becomes entangled in the trash. This problem is expected to worsen, with experts predicting the number to reach 29 million metric tons by 2050.
Freshwater sources are facing both this mounting contamination and impacts from climate change. Due to climate change, dry regions are becoming drier and wet regions are facing more intense rainfall. Additionally, warming temperatures increase the rate of evaporation from lakes, rivers and reservoirs. As many as 96 of the 204 water basins in the U.S. that we rely upon for freshwater are at risk of shortages.
To keep up with demand, groundwater is also being tapped faster than it can be naturally replenished. With the U.S. population expected to increase, that demand will likely do the same in the coming decades. However, small changes on an individual and organizational level to use less water and reduce pollution can go a long way toward protecting these valuable water resources.
How Facility Maintenance Can Help Protect Waterways
Facility managers can take several steps that can help reduce your organization’s impact on the world’s waterways.
- Reduce water and plastic waste. Another way to protect waterways is to ensure efficient clean water use. Assess your facility’s operations to look for areas to reduce water usage. Green cleaning chemicals that don’t leave behind residues can reduce the amount of water necessary to clean a surface. Additionally, using high-quality mops can ensure excess water is not left behind on floors. Consider taking steps to limit plastic waste in your facility by reusing plastic containers and spray bottles. Managers can also set recycling goals to encourage building staff and occupants to recycle plastic waste.
- Choose sustainably manufactured tools. When choosing equipment for your facility, it’s important to consider the products’ entire lifespans. It takes 22 gallons of water to produce one pound of plastic, and over 650 gallons to make one new cotton T-shirt. By opting for brooms and brushes made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and bottle caps, you eliminate the water consumption needed to extract raw materials used to manufacture plastic products. The same is true for mop heads made from recycled garment waste. Selecting recycled tools also repurposes waste that could have ended up in the world’s waterways.
- Use green cleaning chemicals. Many traditional chemicals used in commercial cleaning programs are hazardous to humans, animals and plants and contaminate runoff that enters freshwater basins and oceans. Additionally, many compounds found in cleaning products biodegrade slowly or into more toxic chemicals that can threaten aquatic life. Instead, cleaning professionals can reference the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safer Choice program for certified green cleaning products that reduce health and environmental concerns.
Taking Care of Our Waterways for Future Generations
By the year 2071,nearly half of all the freshwater basins in the U.S. may experience shortages, meaning we will have less water to sustain a larger population. To preserve the health and supply of our waterways for future generations, individuals, communities and companies can work together to reduce waste and pollution. By sourcing the right chemicals and tools and taking steps to limit waste, facility managers can help global efforts to protect waterways.
Using green cleaning tools supports saving water and reducing organizational carbon footprints. Learn more about products made from recycled materials at www.abcoproducts.com or contact us at (888) 694-2226.