Staying Connected to Nature

woman stargazing at night sky

As the world slowly begins to return to normal, many of us will feel the stressors of our old life return – the daily commute, running the kids to and from sports practice, or spending our free time at a family function on the weekend.   However, as we’ve covered on our blog before, staying connected to nature is important for our physical and mental health.  Researchers have also found that it’s especially important for our kids to get outside to avoid “Nature Deficit Disorder.”

So, how do we find balance?  How do we keep up with the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life but still stay connected to nature? Here are some simple ideas:

Bird-watch in your own backyard.  Check out the birds that frequent your backyard with these great tips from Audubon New York.  Not seeing or hearing much?  Put up a bird feeder.  In the Spring or Summer, you might even be able to attract hummingbirds by putting out a special sugar water feeder or planting special flowers.

Little girl looking through binoculars looking for birds

Watch for birds in your own backyard.

Set-up a backyard garden.  Buy some seeds or some starter plants from a local nursery and start a vegetable garden.  Keep note of how the plants transform each day.  Make a family meal using your own veggies.  Or, try sprucing up your landscape with native plants.  Check out the Long Island Native Plant Initiative for some great advice on how to utilize Long Island’s native plants in your yard.

Look up at the night sky.  Shut out all your lights and head outside to look-up.  Use an app like SkySafari to point up to the sky and see what you’re looking at.  Try and identify the stars, planets and constellations that you see.

Go on a hike.  Check out our recreation guides to explore a Pine Barrens park on your own or join us for one of our guided hikes.  Our Long Pine Barrens Parks Passport is the ultimate Pine Barrens self-exploration guide.  It covers 10 parks with 10+ Pine Barrens lessons to be learned along the way, making it perfect for families, classrooms or just the solo hiker who is looking to learn more about this unique ecosystem.

Cover of the Long Island Parks Passport

Long Island Pine Barrens Parks Passport

Identify the plants you see.  Whether you notice a new wildflower in your backyard, are taking a walk throughout  your neighborhood or are hiking though the Pine Barrens – identify and learn about the plants you see by using apps like iNaturalist or PlantNet.  Simply snap a picture with your smartphone and learn all about the plant before you.

Incorporate nature into your work day.  Still working from home?  Grab your laptop, cellphone or notepad and work outside.  Back at the office?  Step out for a bit and enjoy your lunch break outside.

If 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic was good for anything, it allowed some people the privilege of the opportunity to slow down.  People also explored our natural spaces in record numbers.  As we hopefully begin our return our normal, let be sure not lose our connection with nature.  It’s far too important.


By: Katie Muether Brown, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

Hummingbirds Have Arrived

Hummingbirds are back!

 

Spring signifies rebirth, as flowers begin to bloom and the natural scenery turns vibrant green. With the boasting greenery brought by the warmer weather, comes the return of Hummingbirds to Long Island! By mid-April through early-May, Hummingbirds should start making their journey to Long Island, after spending the winter in the tropics. Toward the end of May, Long Island will have Hummingbirds scattered all throughout Nassau and Suffolk County (although they tend to favor the Pine Barrens region, and who can blame them!).

2021 Hummingbird Migration Map ... click for interactive map with details of sightings

Map taken from HumingbirdCentral.com: Red figures represent Red-throated hummingbird spotted locations in 2021

About

What’s so special about Hummingbirds? Well, actually there’s a list of traits that make these birds unlike any other. With 328 Hummingbird species, this family of birds sees no shortage in unique attributes. Hummingbirds are known for their petite figure. In fact, the Bee Hummingbird species (native to Cuba) is the smallest bird in the world, averaging at about 2.2 inches in length. Hummingbirds also fly at great speed. Some records show they can move up to 100 mph! Not only can they travel fast but they have impressive agility. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been seen to flap their wings at 50 beats per second! Their wings also allow them to fly in every direction: forwards, backwards, and even upside down.

Male Ruby-throated hummingbird

 

Long Island

Looking for hummingbirds on Long Island won’t be easy due to their small size and swift movements, but it’s not impossible! As stated earlier, hummingbirds arrive on Long Island in mid-spring and by the summer, Hummingbird populations will peak. Predominantly, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will inhabit the island. Looking for the traits in this specific species, like their reddish necks, will make identification easier. In general, Hummingbirds tend to favor red, blue or purple flowers. If you wish to attract hummingbirds to your own garden, installing a sugar water feeder can lure them in. Plants to put in your garden, that Hummingbirds love, include Trumpet Vine, Honeysuckle, or Cardinals. If you have no luck bringing Hummingbirds to you, then you may come across hummingbirds at the following Long Island parks: Quogue Wildlife Refuge, Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge, or Mashomack Preserve. Make sure to bring binoculars and stay quiet so you don’t scare the birds away!

 

By Miranda Gonzales, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

 


Sources:

https://www.newsday.com/lifestyle/recreation/outdoors/prime-time-for-spotting-hummingbirds-on-long-island-1.14122817

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/hummingbirds

https://www.hummingbirdcentral.com/

 

Tick-Safe Hiking

It’s no secret that Long Island is a hot-spot for ticks and tickborne illness.  Long Island has the highest rate of Lyme Disease in the country.  However, even with this fact, it is still uncommon to fall ill to a tickborne illness.

It’s very important to be mindful of ticks while hiking through our woods, but the fear of ticks should not keep you from enjoying Long Island’s beautiful outdoors.  The best thing you can do is to know how to prevent these tiny pests from latching on.

Long Island’s Ticks

Tick populations across the United States have been on the rise as a result of climate change and habitat destruction. There are three main species that are prominent within Suffolk County – the Deer Tick, Lone Star Tick and American Dog Tick.  A fourth tick, the Longhorn Tick, is expected to reach Long Island within a few years.  This chart from our “Detecting Ticks on Long Island” guide breaks down the three most common ticks on Long Island.

Chart of common ticks found on Long Island - Deer tick, Lone Star Tick, American Dog Tick

Common Ticks Found on Long Island

Many people confuse ticks with chiggers.  However, there is no known presence of chiggers on Long Island. People who have come out of the woods with itchy, red legs covered in bites have likely come in contact with Lone Star Tick larvae – which are similar in size and leave bites similar to chiggers.

What to Do Before Entering the Woods

Limit Your Exposure Area – Try and limit the amount of skin that is exposed.  Tuck your pants into your socks and shirt into your pants.  Tie back long hair.  If you can, wear long sleeves and pants.  Wear closed-toe shoes.  Wear lighter color clothing that will allow you to spot ticks easily.

Wear Tick-Repellant Clothing – Treat your clothes with permethrin or buy clothes already treated with tick-repellant.  Always carefully read and follow the instructions when using tick-repellants, many cannot be directly applied to skin but are applied to clothing instead.

Permethrin Spray to repel ticks

While in the Woods

Remain on the Beaten Path – Always stay on designated trails.  Avoid walking through tall grasses or through brush.

Check Yourself Mid-Hike – Keep checking your clothing throughout your hike, brush off any ticks you may find.

Before Getting in Your Car – Check for ticks again, especially on your shoes.  Some people keep a lint roller in their car and go over their clothing a few times to pick-up tiny larvae.

Lone Star Ticks picked up using a lint roller over clothing

Pick up ticks and tick larvae using a lint roller.

At Home

It’s important to discover ticks on one’s skin as soon as possible.  In most cases, the tick must be attached to your skin for 36-48 hours before it can transmit disease.  So, if you find a tick on you right away – don’t panic.

Check Again – Remove all of your clothing and place it in the washer immediately.  Check yourself for ticks once again.  The most common areas where ticks can be found are: the back of the neck, the scalp, behind the knees, armpits and groin area. Take a shower as soon as you can.

If Bitten – Use tweezers to grab onto the tick and remove it (make sure not to leave the head of the tick behind).  Drop the tick down the toilet and flush.  Treat the bite using an antiseptic.  In the coming days, if you experience fevers or chills, aches and pains, rash, skin ulcers, or any flu-like symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.

Don’t Forget Your Pet

Did you bring your dog along on the hike?  It’s important not to forget about your furry friend!  As a preventative measure, you can have your veterinarian prescribe flea and tick protection pills or provide a Lyme Disease vaccination shot.  Still, always check your dog after and remove any ticks using the method described above.  Make sure to especially check behind the ears and between the pads of their toes.

On our guided hikes, we like to tell people, “Be mindful, but not paranoid.”  You don’t need to avoid the outdoors all together, just stay informed, prevent bites as best you can and remove any ticks you find immediately.


By: Katie Muether Brown, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

How Environmentally Friendly is your Closet?

WHAT’S IN YOUR CLOSET?

The fast fashion industry has become wildly popular and with that, a mass consumption of clothing will lead to large amounts of textile waste. In fact, the EPA estimated that the US produced 17 million tons of textile waste in 2018. On top of the waste created, the fibers used to make our clothing can also negatively impact our environment. If you ever look on your clothing tags, you’ll notice a breakdown of what fibers compose them. We can break these different fibers up into three different categories: synthetic fibers, natural-based fibers, and natural animal source fibers.

 

Among the most environmentally friendly fibers are organic cottons, hemp, or tencel. These all fall into the natural-based fibers category. Your next best choice of fibers would be natural animal source fibers, like silk or wool. These types of fabrics are naturally-made, so they do not contribute to microplastic pollution. However, these fibers also have their downside. Cotton often consumes large amounts of water for production and natural animal source fibers require animal agriculture that occupies large areas of land and can often operate unethically.

On the other hand, synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, spandex, or acrylic are deemed as the least environmentally friendly fibers. These manmade fibers contain plastic and every time a piece of clothing with these fibers get washed they release about 1,900 microplastics every time. Because the sheds of plastic appear so small, they cannot be filtered out of the water, thus making their way into our oceans, seafood, and our drinking water. Long Island’s drinking water quality already suffers, so the addition of microplastics will only feed the fire.

Taking a moment to look through our clothes to understand their composition can help us get ahead of the microplastic problem. If you haven’t done so already, look at the tags on your clothes. It’s likely many articles will have some type of synthetic fiber. These fibers are affordable, therefore loved by fast fashion industries. Ultimately, investing in more durable, naturally-sourced clothing would be ideal, but not everyone has the budget for that, and that’s okay! So, we’ll leave you with a few tips to help minimize your microplastic pollution:

1.Rewear your clothes

This is up to the wearers discretion, but if you find you throw clothes in your laundry basket after only wearing them for a few hours, perhaps reconsider! 

2. Use cold water to wash clothes

When you use hot water to clean your clothes you increase the number of microplastics that get released.

3. Purchase a Guppy friend

A Guppy Friend bag creates a great solution to limiting the microplastic released by synthetic fabrics. Simply place your synthetic clothing items in the bag on laundry day, and when the wash is complete, take the clothes out and discard the left over microplastic.

 

By Miranda Gonzales, Long Island Pine Barrens Society


Sources:

https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/textiles-material-specific-data

 

 

Leave No Trace

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been enjoying Long Island’s great outdoors more than ever.  With most attractions closed or many feeling unsafe visiting indoor locations with others, Long Islanders have developed a new love for our woods and beaches.

Unfortunately though, an increase in visitors can also mean an increase in litter and land degradation.  We’ve seen people violating park rules, like walking their dogs unleased or in parks where they are not allowed.  We’ve also seen an increase in litter, like food and beverage containers, dog waste bags, and even a new kind of litter, personal protection equipment, like masks and gloves.

surgical mask littered in the woods

Mask littered in the Pine Barrens Woods – June 2020

Don’t get us wrong, we love seeing people discovering and enjoying Long Island’s natural treasures.  Long Islanders have put up more than two billion dollars to purchase and preserve open space.  This land is your land!  However, it’s important that we respect the land and take care of it.  We often say it’s best to “leave no trace” – but what exactly does that mean?  Here are some suggestions on how to best enjoy our parks without trashing them.

Don’t litter.  Properly dispose of your waste.  Most parks have trash receptacles at trail entrances, or sometimes, along the trail.  If there are no receptacles, make sure to carry out any items you carry in.  If your dog goes to the bathroom, pick up the waste and dispose of the bag properly.

Leave What You Find.  Leave with only photographs and memories.  Leave areas as you found them.  Don’t mark or carve into trees and especially do not leave graffiti.  Do not rip out plants or flowers and leave all natural objects.  Take pictures instead.

graffiti covering a historic stone structure in the pine barrens

This historic structure at Cranberry Bog County Park (pumphouse from the park’s history as an active cranberry farm) was defaced with graffiti in 2020 during the pandemic. (Photo by Anibal Avendano)

Respect Wildlife.  Observe wildlife from a distance.  Do not touch, pick-up or feed wild animals.  If an animal changes its behavior because of you, you are too close and have caused a disruption.  We have noticed that seal watching has become especially popular during the pandemic – seals are a federally-protected species, always maintain at least 200 feet distance.

Stay on Trails.  Trails were designed to allow people to travel through the woods while minimizing impact on the environment as much as possible.  Stay on the trails to avoid trampling plants (many of which are rare in the Pine Barrens), eroding land, and to avoid picking-up ticks.

Be Considerate of Others.  By leaving no trace and respecting park rules, you keep nature intact for others to enjoy.  Why did you head out into nature – to enjoy the peace, beauty and solitude? Well, be sure not to ruin that for others.  Keep noise to a minimum.  Do not litter.  Leash your dogs and pick up and properly dispose of their waste.  Be respectful with technology such as phones, cameras and drones.  And of course, always be kind to others.

By following these simple principles, we can all safely enjoy our beautiful surroundings and keep it in tact for future generations.  Enjoy your time in nature and leave it the way you found it, so others can enjoy it too.  Leave with nothing but memories and photographs.


By: Katie Muether Brown, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

Invaders of Long Island

Long Island sees no shortage in unique plant and animal species that inhabit the Pine Barrens. These species all carryout specific functions to maintain the flow of the ecosystem, but sometimes new species make their way into these environments where they don’t naturally belong. Depending on how these incoming species affect their new ecosystem, they can be classified as an invasive species or just a non-native species. All invasive species are non-native species but non-native species are not always invasive. To break it down, a non-native species does not occur naturally in their new environment, but they do not cause harm, while an invasive species is a type of non-native species that causes environmental, economic or human harm in their new environment.

 

Researchers study invasive species to determine the three threats they pose to the given environment. To cause environmental harm, a species will outcompete the native species either directly or indirectly. By damaging the environment, invasive species also cause economic harm. For example, if an area relies on the income earned from outdoor recreational activities, a damaged environment may deter tourists from visiting, thus decreasing profit from tourism. Lastly, an invasive species may also cause human harm by creating new diseases, or acting as a vector for existing diseases. 

 

Long Island hosts an array of invasive and non-native species. We see these species in terrestrial, aquatic and marine habitats. The following list provides some examples of non-native invasive species that you may have come across while exploring our many parks. 

 

Photo by John Wernet

 

Southern Pine Beetle 

The Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) invaded Suffolk County from the southern part of the US and this tiny pest has spread widely throughout the Long Island Pine Barrens. SPB burrow themselves into trees like Pitch Pines and introduce a deadly blue-stain fungus, and by doing so, they stop essential nutrient flow which can kill the tree in as little as 2 months. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) composed a Southern Pine Beetle Management Plan that aims to monitor the SPB populations, cut down at-risk trees to slow infestation, and restore infected land.

Multiflora Rose

This plant species made its way to the US from Japan in the late 1800s. Multiflora Rose has a high seed germination thus increasing their chance of outcompeting native plant species. Efforts to slow the spread of this invasive species include removal of seeds, use of herbicides, and recent studies await approval to release European Rose Chalcid wasps that would utilize the multiflora rose seeds as a place to store their larvae.

Mute Swan:

Mute swans made their way to the Northeast coast of America through captivity. When they escaped into the wild, they soon became classified as an invasive species as they often overconsume aquatic vegetation and aggressively attack the native waterfowl. The NYSDEC established regulations to control the mute swan population growth by prohibiting the sale, transportation, or introduction of new mute swans in New York. 

By Miranda Gonzales, Long Island Pine Barrens Society


Sources:

http://www.liisma.org/

https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/99331.html

https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7076.html#Management 

Long Island’s Coastal Plain Ponds

Coastal Plain Pond in the Long Island Pine Barrens

Long Island’s Central Pine Barrens boast the greatest diversity of plants and animals anywhere in New York State.  What does this mean? The Long Island Pine Barrens house the greatest variety of animal and plant species in all of New York.  It is home to thousands of different plants and animals, many of which are rare and endangered.  Much of that biodiversity can be found in and around the Pine Barrens’ Coastal Plain Ponds.

Pond shore of a coastal plain pond

Coastal Plain Pond within Brookhaven State Park (K.Brown)

Long Island’s Coastal Plain Ponds are one of the rarest and most fragile wetland ecosystems in North America.  According to the New York Natural Heritage Program, there are just over 30 documented coastal plain pond shores in New York.  One thing you will notice when identifying a Coastal Plain Pond, is that there are no contributing bodies of water.  These ponds are not stream or river-fed but instead, are fed by groundwater.  The pond levels will often rise and fall with the water table, as they are dependent on precipitation levels. That’s why Coastal Plain Ponds can look radically different depending on the season.  If pond levels are low, it’s important to not walk within the pond area, to avoid trampling rare plants.

Within the coastal plain pond ecosystem, you may find several rare amphibians, fish and insects.  This includes the endangered Eastern Tiger Salamander and the threatened Banded Sunfish.  The Coastal Plain Ponds are also home to a special species of damselfly endemic to Long Island, the Pine Barrens Bluet.  This damselfly is named after our Pine Barrens because it can only be found along the coastal plain pond shores of our Pine Barrens.

pine barrens bluet damselfly rests on a leaf

Pine Barrens Bluet Damselfly (Steve Walter)

Explorers will also encounter rare plant species, such as Atlantic White Cedar, Green Screwstem, Primrose-leaf Violet, and carnivorous plant species such as the Pitcher Plant, Sundew and Floating Bladderwort.

a group of spatulate leaved sundews a carnivorous plant along a pond shore

Spatulate-leaved Sundews along the shores of a Coastal Plain Pond (K.Brown)

While these ecosystems are beautiful and special, they are unfortunately threatened.  These threats include: roadway and agricultural runoff, nitrogen pollution, increased groundwater withdrawal, trampling of vegetation and invasive plant and animal species.  In particular, since these ponds are dependent on groundwater flow – anything that impacts our water quality will also impact the health of these ecosystems.

If you’re looking to check out a Coastal Plain Pond for yourself, you can pay a visit to Brookhaven State Park, Ridge Conservation Area, Calverton Ponds Preserve, Sears Bellow County Park, or the Long Pond Greenbelt.  Please be mindful of these fragile and sensitive ecosystems – take special care to not trample any vegetation and leave no trace.  Leave with only memories and pictures.


By: Katie Muether Brown, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

The DOs and DONTS of Recycling

The slogan, Reduce Reuse and Recycle, has been around for decades, and by now many Americans have grown up with this mindset. The slogan first came about in the 1970s as a way to promote low-waste lifestyles after WWII influenced large amounts of stockpiling. Recycling often seems like the go-to practice, however it’s best to first reduce your consumption to only necessary purchases or reuse items until they no longer serve a purpose. Typically, items can only be recycled 2-3 times before the material quality breaks down too much. But, if you find that recycling is the only option, here are some Dos and Don’ts to ensure a correct recycling practice!

 

DO  

  • Use an item as many times as possible before recycling

As stated before, recycling should remain your last option because of all the risks that may lead a recyclable to a landfill. Reusing an item prolongs its life and reduces the need to purchase additional wasteful products.

  • Rinse off recyclables before disposal

Cleaning your recycle containers is SO important. When a dirty container makes its way into your recyclable bin, it contaminates the whole batch which can then cause your recyclables to be thrown into a landfill. However, sometimes the water waste outweighs the recycling aspect, especially if you live in an area with freshwater scarcity. So before using all that pressurized hot water to clean out your pesky peanut butter jars, consider its worth.

  • Separate your recyclables

Curbside recycling programs create an easy way to recycle from home, but you must know what type of recyclables your town accepts. For example, if you live in the Town of Brookhaven, you can only recycle plastics #1 and #2, and paper/cardboard. You cannot combine plastic and paper recycling, so be sure to store these in two separate bins. The group Green Inside and Out composed a chart of the recyclable items in towns throughout Long Island, you can find that here.

  • Research your town’s recycling schedule

If you don’t know the correct days for recycling pickup, you could defeat the purpose of separating your recyclables in the first place. Luckily, you can find your town’s recycling schedule by a quick Google search. To stay even more proactive, print it out and hang it on your fridge as a reminder.

 

*Here are some local town Recycling schedules: Brookhaven, Islip, Riverhead

 

 

Don’t

 

  • Leave the lids/labels on recyclables

While most plastic bottles are safe to recycle, their lids are NOT. Make sure to toss the lids and take the labels off!

 

  • Be a wishful recycler

By this we mean, don’t place plastic in the recycling bin in hopes that it can be recycled. You should only recycle items you’re sure of, otherwise the entire bin will go to waste.

  • Store paper recyclables in a wet place

Long Island has seen no shortage of snow this winter! Storing recyclables outdoors definitely makes more room indoors, but when your cardboard gets wet, either by keeping it outdoors or perhaps an accidental spill, it can no longer be recycled. Not only will water weaken the value of the material but wet cardboard often clogs the sorting machine at recycling facilities.

  • Throw out items that can’t get recycled curbside

Curbside recycling has its limitations, but that doesn’t mean to toss material that you can’t recycle at home. Most plastic bags can’t be recycled at home, so you can simply recycle these at your local grocery store, and when it comes to electronic waste (E-waste) most towns or Best Buys accept E-waste drop offs!

 

By Miranda Gonzales, Long Island Pine Barrens Society


Source: enviroinc.com

“Exceedingly poor indeed” – George Washington on the Long Island Pine Barrens

George Washington silhouetted on a horse with a blue sky backdrop

The Long Island Pine Barrens is a beautiful natural escape full of unique geological features and plant and animal species, but it’s also full of history! As we celebrate President’s Day, we should talk about our nation’s first president and his tour of our Pine Barrens.

In 1790, George Washington took a grand tour of Long Island.  His tour was considered a “victory lap” – after winning the American Revolution, he traveled to Long Island to thank the members of the Culper Spy Ring of Setauket and others, who played a key role in the victory.

George Washington on a horse saluting

George Washington took a “Victory Lap” tour of Long Island after the American Revolution.

He began in New Utrecht (Brooklyn) and traveled to the towns of Hempstead, Copiague, West Bay Shore, West Sayville, Patchogue, Setauket, Smithtown, Huntington, and Roslyn.  You can read more about his famous tour here.

If he had taken that route today, he likely would have never entered the Pine Barrens.  However, in 1790, the Pine Barrens stretched much further west across Long Island.  In fact, the Pine Barrens once stretched all the way into the Town of Oyster Bay.  There, the Pine Barrens met the Hempstead Plains.  Unfortunately, development throughout the years has cleared most of our Pine Barrens – 250,000 acres was dwindled down to 100,000 acres.  Remnants of these original woodlands still occur in patches across the Island.

Map of Long Island showing how the Pine Barrens once extended west into the Town of Oyster Bay

Credit: “Historical Changes in the Pine Barrens of Central Suffolk County, New York” (Kurczewski & Boyle, 2000)

So, what did George Washington have to say about our beloved Pine Barrens?  In 1790, he wrote in his journal, “The country through which I passed became more barren as we travelled eastward, so as to become exceedingly poor indeed.”  He also described the area as covered with “low scrubby oak, intermixed with small and ill-thriven pines.”

While it seems like he didn’t care for our Pine Barrens too much, there is some truth behind his descriptions.  The Pine Barrens are… barren.  The soil in the Pine Barrens is often sandy, acidic and nutrient-poor.  Early European settlers termed the area barren because they were unable to plant their crops there.  However, the soil is what makes the Pine Barrens so special – it supports a diverse spectrum of plant life that thrive in these soils, that you can’t find anywhere else!  The sandy soils also make the Pine Barrens the ideal location for aquifer recharge.  Water (from precipitation) is absorbed quickly through the sandy soils, restoring our aquifers with fresh, pure water untouched by development.

Perhaps it was just that George Washington didn’t spend enough time in our Pine Barrens to understand their true beauty and potential.


By: Katie Muether Brown, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

6 Ways To Conserve Water in Your Homes

Kitchen sink

Two weeks ago, we announced on our blog that the Lewis Road Project in East Quogue has conditionally been approved and we outlined the environmental risks to come to Long Island. If you haven’t seen that post you can find it here. Excessive water use creates a global problem, not only local. In fact, of all the water on our earth, we only have 2.5% freshwater, and only 1% can be accessed. With a growing population, water availability becomes scarce in certain regions. As the global climate crisis accelerates, we’ll continue seeing an increase in droughts, flooding that will pollute waterways, and degradation of aquifers. This hurts our water supply even more. Long Islanders should feel especially passionate about the water crisis as we already have the most polluted water in New York State. Draining our aquifer will only make our water quality worse. So, what can we do to conserve water on the household level?

 

Bathroom Routine

1. Shorter Showers

Taking shorter showers to conserve water may be a well-known conservation tactic, but it’s important to keep this habit. Showers waste an estimated 5 gallons per minute. To conserve your shower water waste, you should set a timer on your phone so you know exactly when you hit the 5 minute mark. 

2. Invest in Water-Saving Toilet 

Did you know that older toilets typically waste 5-7 gallons of water per flush? Investing in a water-saving toilet can help everyone in your household cut back on their water waste. If this investment doesn’t seem affordable right now, you can always fill up a plastic bottle and place it in the toilet tank. This will decrease the amount of water needed to fill your tank, saving about 10 gallons of water per day.

Kitchen Routine 

3. Cook Less Red Meat

Studies show that a ⅓ pound burger requires 660 gallons of water to make! Animal agriculture consumes a large amount of water, so by cutting back on red meat in your diet, you can help conserve water in the agriculture industry.

4. Fill-up Your Dishwasher

Most dishwashers use less water than washing your dishes by hand. This practice will be most effective if you make sure that the dishwasher is completely full, eliminating the need for multiple loads. If you don’t have a dishwasher, then wash your dishes like you would brush your teeth and turn the sink off when it’s not necessary.

 

Outdoor Routine

5. Water Your Lawn Earlier in the Day

While most of our lawns are currently covered in snow, it’s important to remember this tip when Spring comes around. Watering your lawn in the morning avoids high rates of evaporation that would occur midday, thus requiring more water.

6. Recycle Your Water

Keep a bowl in the sink while you wash your fruit and veggies. You can then recycle this water by pouring it into your gardens or on houseplants.

 

By Miranda Gonzales, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

 


Sources:

https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/water-scarcity