Around Your Home

There are many ways that you can help Long Island Sound, by changing some simple things around your home. Remember, we all affect the Sound: items we put out with the trash or down the drain can eventually end up in Long Island Sound and pollute it. Read below to find out how you can do your part to keep Long Island Sound healthy!

Water Conservation

Homeowners can significantly reduce the volume of wastewater discharged to home septic systems and sewage treatment plants by conserving water.

  • Conserve water by using low-flow faucets, shower heads, reduced-flow toilet flushing equipment, and water saving appliances.
  • Repair leaking faucets, toilets, and pumps.
  • Use dishwashers and clothes washers only when fully loaded.
  • Take short showers instead of baths and avoid letting faucets run unnecessarily.

Maintain Your Septic System

Improperly maintained septic systems can contaminate ground water and surface water with nutrients and pathogens.

  • Have your septic system inspected annually.
  • Pump out your septic system every three to five years.
  • Do not use septic system additives as some additives may in fact be detrimental to the system and the Sound.


Get your local recycling requirements and make sure you are recycling cans, bottles, and paper whenever possible!

  • Collect cans and bottles when you travel, when you picnic, or eat at drive-ins. Recycle what you can.
  • Buy products that are made from recycled materials or that use recycled packaging.
  • Reuse your plastic shopping bags. When shopping, decline bags for smaller purchases such as stamps, greeting cards, etc. Better yet, carry a reusable lightweight cloth or string bag.
  • If you are recycling, that’s great! But be sure you are recycling correctly, otherwise your efforts might not be paying off and recyclables might end up in the trash after all. Some items need rinsing, some you might think are recyclable are not, and some others might be recyclable, but not in your area’s facility. When in doubt, check it out first using your local area’s recycling facility website and resources such as Earth911’s How to Recycle page.

Don’t Throw Away Electronics, Cell Phones, and Batteries

These items contain hazardous chemicals and should be properly disposed. There are also many materials in these items that can be recycled.

  • If you have an old computer, printer, or other electronic, give it to a school, library, or donation center.
  • If these items no longer work, be sure to properly dispose of them. Visit Earth911’s Recycling Search page to find a recycling or donation facility near you!

Properly Dispose of Hazardous Household Chemicals

Hazardous substances from products such as paints, oil, antifreeze, unwanted medicines, and pesticides can end up in drinking water and the Long Island Sound if they are thrown out with the everyday trash.

  • Visit the EPA’s website to determine what materials are hazardous to our environment and health, and search Earth911’s Recycling Search page to find the collection facility near you for proper disposal!
  • Never pour unwanted chemicals down the drain, as it may disrupt your septic system or else contaminate treatment plant sludge. Also, do not pour these chemicals on the ground. Soil cannot purify most chemicals, and they may eventually contaminate runoff.
  • Be aware that many chemicals commonly used around the home are toxic. Reduce the use of household chemicals by selecting less toxic alternatives and using non-toxic substitutes wherever possible. Buy chemicals only in the amount you expect to use, and apply them only as directed. Remember, more is not better.

Conserve Energy

  • Replace your incandescent bulbs with more efficient light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs)  and compact fluorescents. [Note: Some bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, so check with your Public Works Department for proper disposal!]
  • Take advantage of the home energy audits offered by many utilities. Simple measures, such as installing a programmable thermostat to replace your old dial unit or sealing and insulating heating and cooling ducts, can reduce a typical household’s carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Unplug the extra refrigerator or freezer you rarely use (you know, the one you only use for holidays and parties)! For a full list of tips on how to save on your energy bill and reduce your carbon footprint, check out Energy Star’s Energy Saving At Home.
  • When replacing appliances, look for the EPA’s Energy Star label on new appliances (refrigerators, freezers, furnaces, air conditioners, and water heaters use the most energy).

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