But how can I help the Bay? Here are ten easy ways…
Our natural thriving ecosystems in and around Port Phillip Bay deserve attention and care. Home to many unique and wondrous species, the Bay is an important hub for recreation and tourism, and a vital link between ocean and land which provides many essential ecosystem services.
Urban stormwater pollution poses a large threat to our bay. We often think about helping through on-ground, direct care to our local beaches and bays. But sometimes the best way is early intervention to stop the pollution from ever entering the system. By making small changes in our daily lives, we can benefit our local environments, breed an environmental consciousness and promote positive environmental change.
1. Reduce household waste
Waste can be reduced in many ways such as avoiding single-use plastics such as straws, takeaway cutlery and items with excessive packaging. Purchasing reusable long-life drink bottles, reusable shopping bags and fewer products with excess plastic packaging will reduce the amount of circulating plastic and in turn less will be found in our waterways.
2. Avoid littering
The rubbish that people leave on the streets ends up in our street drains which flows into local waterways so it is essential that all litter ends up in the bin. This includes cigarette butts! Think about rehoming street litter to a nearby bin, even if it isn’t yours, to reduce the likelihood of that piece of rubbish ending up in the Bay.
3. Wash your car on grass
Instead of washing your car on the road, where the detergents and dirt run off into the stormwater drain, move it onto the grass first, which will soak up the residue.
4. Sweep, don’t hose
When cleaning your footpath or driveway, sweep and collect rather than hosing. The hose water can carry dirt, pollution or waste into the drains.
5. Plant native
Landscaping your garden with native plants will reduce water use and the need for fertilisers as native plants are more suited to the Australian climate. See this recent piece on native hedgerows for inspiration and keep an eye out for more articles from Remember The Wild’s new wildlife gardening writer Mackenzie Kwak in coming months.
To reduce the accumulation of leaves and garden waste in gutters and downstream pollution, reuse the leaf matter as compost or mulch.
7. Reduce weed-killer and fertiliser use
Weed-killers can be toxic to animal and plant life while fertiliser can hold excess nutrients which could cause species imbalance in our waterways. Additionally, these toxic compounds usually take many years to break down so their effects are long-term and difficult to reverse.
8. Pick up after pets
Always clean up after pets; droppings left can contaminate local waterways when transported down our street drains. Just because a dropping pile is not in danger of being stepped on doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be picked up!
9. Create a raingarden
Raingardens act as filter systems that can improve the water quality in nearby waterways by reducing their pollution levels. Rainwater runoff from urban areas such as roofs is absorbed instead of moving through stormwater drains, allowing rainwater to become available for plants as groundwater.
10. Use rainwater tanks
Rainwater tanks collect stormwater run-off from hard surfaces, reducing the amounts that enter our waterways. In turn they also minimise water usage, site flooding and strain on stormwater drain systems.
Incorporating one of these ten tips could have significant positive downstream effects. Everyone can play their part to encourage a communal sense of environmental stewardship and an active shared responsibility in our efforts to support the environment, to ensure a prosperous future of the Bay.
Written by Johanna Tachas. Banner Image courtesy of Tim Brown.