We recently spent a long weekend in San Francisco, which used to be our home. When we lived there, the bay was the center of what we liked to do. We loved hiking and viewing the bay from various points, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge or simply strolling along the shore on a nice day. We never thought about the damage that was being done to it daily.
Let’s face it: we’re the only specie creating trash, and the San Francisco Bay is unfortunately being used as a trash can. As a matter a fact, a study shows that it is so heavily polluted that the trash found in it could fill 100,000 kitchen garbage bags every year. Not only does the bay contain tons of fast-food wrappers, plastic bottles, paper bags, and cigarette butts, but study also shows it contains high levels of chemicals and hormones. Advances in technology allow for a closer look at man-made chemicals and hormones in 139 streams, revealing that a lot of the streams contain chemicals known for or suspected of disrupting the hormone systems of animals and people.
Traces of chemicals being used daily in most homes can found in the bay. These chemicals damage and disrupt wild animal life in and around this estuary. The hormones and chemicals create reproductive disorders, which will cause them not to reproduce as they should, therefore risking extinction. The chemicals and trash harbored in our waters affect every human being, especially if they eat sea food. For example, all the plastic floating around leaks BPA, which can cause miscarriages and is linked to polycystic ovarian syndrome. Triclosan, which is a chemical found in antibacterial hand soaps and personal care products, causes thyroid problems and is linked to cancers.
Plastic bags that end up in the bay entangle wild life and threaten sensitive marine life. Styrofoam and its damage to our planet we have written about before on green-mom.com. Styrofoam and other forms of polystyrene packaging are the second most abundant kind of beach debris in California. Millions of dollars are spent each year to clean up our waters.
So how can we stop this damage? First, we can make smart choices when it comes to purchasing and using our household cleaners and personal care items. Go green and buy only non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning supplies for your home. There are so many options out there now that we really have no excuses. My favorite brand is Seventh Generation. Second, use non-chemicals in the laundry. (We covered this in an article posted not long ago.) We use soap nuts at home and could not be happier with them. I know that when you first look at these funny little nuts, you wonder what they really can do with dirty laundry: the answer is — a lot. We use soap nuts for all our laundry, even soiled cloth diapers, and we never have had any stains that they did not work on. Last, even when it comes to shampoo, soap, make up, make up remover, and tooth paste, you want to be smart and choose green products and green packaging. Reject packing peanuts and styrofoam always, and do not use plastic bags or buy plastic bottled water.
The time to act is now. Damage to our planet is happening rapidly, and it does and will affect us all. Changes in how we choose to live on Earth are crucial to animals, the environment and our health.
To learn more about how to Save San Francisco Bay, go to these websites: