Like a Leaf on the Water: Minimize Your Ripple Effect on Water Quality

If you were to skip a stone across the still waters of one of Lake Lanier’s many coves, you would see dozens of ripples radiating out from each spot where your stone skipped. On the other hand, if you were to gently lay a leaf on the water and watch it float away, you would barely notice a disturbance on the surface. At Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful – in celebration of August as Water Quality Month and all the months to come, we encourage YOU to be like a leaf and minimize your own “ripple effect” on water quality. Here are just a handful of ways you can do just that:

  • Commit to the Use of Reusable Bags and Water Bottles: While they are widely known to be killing sea life and wreaking havoc on our planet’s oceans, plastic bags and one-use water bottles can have an adverse effect on water quality a little closer to home, as well. According to the Watershed Institute, waste from one-use bags and bottles breaks down into tiny plastic particles. These microplastics have been detected in water around the world, not only in our oceans, but also in our streams, rivers and lakes. In these waterways, the microplastics can end up in the water we drink and the fish we eat. They also leech into the water, degrading the water quality with toxic compounds that can harm humans and animals. Not to mention the fact that they can block storm drains and culverts, impeding the flow of water and worsening bank erosion.
  • Make the Switch to Environmentally Friendly Cleaners: While we all love the convenience offered by single-use cleaning wipes, the chemicals used on them can have a negative impact on water quality. The same holds true for potentially harmful phosphate detergents and antibacterial cleaners that often wind up down the drain. Make a conscious decision to research and buy more eco-friendly cleaners or make your own using ingredients like baking soda, club soda, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, lemons and even vodka. This article from The Spruce outlines these and other alternatives, as well as their common uses. Once you’ve made the switch, be sure to dispose of your Hazardous Household Waste properly, like at a bi-annual HHW Collection Day hosted by Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful and Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources.
  • Be a Good Water Steward at Home: Water conservation is also an important part of minimizing your personal “ripple.” Check your pipes, faucets and toilets for leaks, challenge your family members to shorten the length of showers and turn off faucets while brushing their teeth, and consider investing in EnergyStar appliances – particularly your clothes washer, dish washer, refrigerator with water filter and ice maker and your water heater. EnergyStar appliances are not only known for energy efficiency, they’re also great for water conservation if they have a low water factor. For tips and guidance, visit the appliance page on the EnergyStar website.
  • Be a Good Water Steward in Your Community: One of the best ways to have a direct impact on water quality within your community is to team up with Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful! Between watershed cleanup events and Adopt-a-Stream workshops to learn how to monitor and report water quality at a water source near you, you can have a real hands-on influence on the quality of water in your area. To learn more, visit our Programs page at
  • Encourage Others to be a Leaf on the Water, Too: The power of one is a great thing, but the power of many can move mountains. After you’ve made one or all the changes listed above, encourage your friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers, social media contacts and more to do the same. An awesome way to start is by sharing this article with others!!