THEN | We used outhouses or pit toilets. With indoor plumbing came flush toilets and septic systems. We thought they’d last forever.
NOW | Houses have more than one bathroom and lots of other water using appliances (dishwashers, washing machines and hot tubs). Septic systems don’t last forever; they need to be pumped out every three years.
EASY CHANGE | Check and pump septic system regularly.
THEN | We used to take everything to the “Dump,” throw everything in the trash that was hauled to the landfill, or pour liquids onto the ground.
NOW | We know these harmful chemicals can filter into our drinking water.
EASY CHANGE | Collect hazardous materials in a box in your garage. Each summer call the Antrim Conservation District (231) 533–8363 for a drop–off appointment for one of the Household Hazardous Waste days.
THEN | We used to flush medicines down the toilet or throw them in the trash.
NOW | We know that septic systems can’t break down these chemicals. To prevent them from entering our drinking water, we need to dispose of them differently.
EASY CHANGE | Take unwanted over–the–counter medicines and prescriptions to a local pharmacy (Yellow Jug for Old Drugs). Or to the Sheriff’s Office in Bellaire or the Police Office in Elk Rapids (Pills in the Purple Pod).
THEN | We used to plant certain shrubs for wildlife habitat and flowers from foreign places to make our gardens rich with variety.
NOW | Some of these species spread so fast they choke out our native species and reduce plant and animal diversity.
EASY CHANGE | Learn to identify invasive species on your land and in the water. Remove them. Use the safest method to remove each species.
THEN | We took trees for granted thinking they would continue to reproduce and always give us shade, clean air and clean water. Plus they provide habitat for native birds and other animals.
NOW | There are non–native insects such as the emerald ash borer and diseases from other countries that are destroying our native trees.
EASY CHANGE | Plant native trees that will adapt to warmer and drier conditions. Red oak, white oak, black oak, hemlock, and our State tree, white pine, are good options.
6. Go natural
THEN | When folks came north, they left the land the way it was – wild & natural. They chose to spend their time exploring the outdoors rather than maintaining a man-made landscape.
NOW | Many people have installed lawns and spend hours on maintenance. Turf grass has shallow roots that cannot trap polluted runoff from our yards. Native grasses don’t need fertilizers and have longer roots to protect our drinking water.
EASY CHANGE | Limit the size of your lawn. Keep the natural landscape of northern Michigan around your home.
Learn more ….
THEN | Early resorters built cottages and cabins that blended into the landscape. They kept trees and shrubs along the shore. This natural buffer protected them from high winds and storms and provided shady habitat along the shore for fish, minnows and crawdads.
NOW | People are changing the natural landscape in dramatic ways. Trees and shrubs along the shore are removed. Lawns are planted down to the water’s edge. Rockscapes and artificial beaches have replaced the natural buffer.
EASY CHANGE | Let your shoreline go natural. Shade trees near the shore provide cool water habitat for many native species: minnows, kingfishers and lightning bugs.
THEN | We chose plants for our yards and gardens, because they were pretty. We didn’t think about where they came from or whether they would provide vital food for northern birds and butterflies.
NOW | We know that non-native plants do not provide adequate food and shelter for native animals, birds, bees, and butterflies.
EASY CHANGE | Plant native species of flowers, shrubs and trees that will provide food and shelter for native animals, birds, bees and butterflies.
THEN | We piped excess water off our property into roadside ditches, storm drains, wetlands, streams and directly into the lake.
NOW | These pipes and more paved driveways are carrying polluted rainwater and toxic chemicals directly into the streams and the lake.
EASY CHANGE | Redirect downspouts, perimeter drains and paved driveways into vegetated depressions, rain gardens, or French drains.
THEN | We used to have grocery stores with meats wrapped in white, waxed paper, baking staples, a few canned goods and very few pre– packaged foods.
NOW | We have supermarkets with thousands of products. Most of them are pre–packaged in plastic and Styrofoam, which a petroleum–based products.
EASY CHANGE | Take your plastic, paper, cardboard, metal, styrofoam and glass to Antrim County Recycling sites, instead of throwing them in the trash.
Top Ten Easy Changes (.pdf)