West Maple Knows Your Smile Makes the World a Better Place, Now it Can Make it a Little Greener Place, Too!
There are a million reasons to look after our precious planet, and your smile is just one of them! Environmental issues affect every part of your life, and your oral health is no exception.
Today, let’s look at some ways our daily routine is affecting our environment, and what we might be able to do to be a little greener!
The Issue: Air and Water Pollution
Toxic air is nothing to smile about, and pollution is anything but great for your grin. Just the thought of chemicals, environmental toxins, and air pollution are enough to take the smile right off of your face, but they can have a more indirect impact on your oral health.
Contaminated water can quickly become a health concern, from drinking, to bathing, to brushing your teeth. Run off from factories can contaminate waterways and growing fields, and the energy used to clean the water causes issues of its own.
Do Your Part!
Ending waste is a fast way to cut back on both how much trash we’re adding to the environment, and how much energy, water, and environmental impact it takes to clean up and replace what we consume! Make shopping lists and only buy the food on the list. This easy step will cut back on food waste, which accounts for about 17% of the garbage in Omaha landfills.
Chop veggies and store them on low shelves in the fridge in glass jars for easy access to a healthy snack! Your kids are more likely to grab carrot sticks if they’re already cleaned and washed. Making a salad is fast and easy when the ingredients are washed and close at hand, and you’re less likely to forget them in your crisper if you’ve already taken the time to prepare them!
Compost what you can, feeding your home garden for richer, more nutrient-dense soil. Avoid buying individually wrapped foods, as they are a huge source of packing waste, and recycle whenever possible!
The Issue: Water Waste
Mother Nature does an impeccable job of cleaning the water we use naturally, but at the rate humans are currently consuming the supply, she simply can’t keep up! Water treatment plants are needed to provide access to safe water sources, but more chemicals and more energy are needed for this process.
We are incredibly lucky to live in a country with such an abundant water supply. Even in other well-developed nations, water shortages are becoming a very real threat. This year, the South African Port of Cape Town faces a true water crisis. It is anticipated that they will have run out of water before you have read these words. As far away as this sounds, this is only one extreme example. As close as Flint, Michigan, residents are faced with contaminated water supplies that have crippled much of the area. But it isn’t until the crisis occurs that we think to begin preservation efforts.
Do Your Part!
An ounce of preservation is worth a pound of water treatment! If you leave the water running while you brush your teeth, the average American faucet wastes two gallons per minute that the water is running! You use less than a quarter of a gallon if you only turn the water on while rinsing the brush.
Put a bucket in the shower to collect the water that runs while you wait for the water to warm up. Use this bucket to water house plants, flush the toilet, or scrub your floors! If you wait five minutes every morning before stepping in the shower, you are wasting 3,650 gallons of water per year, just waiting for the water to warm up! That’s every member of your household. Saving a few gallons of water every day may seem like a drop in the bucket, but with 7billion people on the planet, Earth could use every drop!
This Issue: Plastic Pollutants
Plastics seem to make life easier every day, from grocery bags to straws. It is estimated that each Americans throws away more than 185 pounds of plastic each year.
But as cheap and convenient as plastic is to make and use, the environmental cost is astronomical. Plastic doesn’t decompose, and even as the particles do break down, they contaminate soil and ground water.
Do Your Part!
When you’re done with your toothbrush, reuse it. Scrub that tricky spot behind the faucet, clean the hinges of your toilet, scrub the grout in your tile work. Teach kids to make splatter paintings and detail clean their trophies. When you have used every bit of life, give it a good clean and recycle it. Rather than spending eternity in a landfill, that toothbrush that saved your smile can live a hundred lives before it’s done! Most mouthwash bottles are also recyclable, so check your local regulations and keep it in the bin!
Buying your family reusable straws can keep thousands of plastic single use straws from contaminating ground soil, while keeping your teeth free from acids and stains! Bring plastic bags back to the grocery store, which will have a recycling receptacle in the entryway. Try to remember to bring a canvas bag, use glass jars for buying in bulk, and ask for paper if you’ve forgotten your reusable bags. Every little bit helps!
And with your new spring cleaned routine, you can smile a little brighter! Every day, you’re making the world a little healthier place, and a little happier one, too!