We asked the leaders of local environmental organizations for suggestions on ways individuals can help reduce water pollution.  Here are their responses (no. 10 is from Ships of the Sea). 

Be mindful of "What you put down your drain." - Daniel Parshley, Project Manager, Glynn Environmental Coalition

For people on municipal waste and water treatment systems, Daniel Parshely, Project Manager for Glynn Environmental Coalition advises: "What you put down your drain will go to the ocean. Many of the chemicals such as pharmaceuticals and cleaners go through the water treatment plant unchanged or can even make more toxic chemicals.  Chemicals, like birth control pills, can change the biology of fish - like making male fish produce egg protein.  We should all think before we put anything down the drain!"  To learn more about the Glynn Environmental Coalition please click button below. 

"Pick up trash every time you see it." - Tonya Bonitatibus, Executive Director, Savannah Riverkeeper

From Savannah Riverkeeper's website:"Trash, debris, tires and other refuse that doesn’t get disposed of properly becomes a nuisance and worse, ends up in our waterways. Savannah Riverkeeper performs regular cleanups both on the water and around the community, and helps facilitate when individuals, schools, clubs, or other groups wish to organize a cleanup project." If you wish to host your own cleanup, or learn more about Savannah Riverkeeper, please follow the link below. 

"Avoid single-use disposable plastic as much as possible." - Karen Grainey, President, Clean Coast

From Karen Grainey, President of Clean Coast:" I would emphasize not purchasing bottled water since plastic beverage containers are consistently the most numerous item we find. Plastic bottles are also consistently in the top ten items collected around the world during the International Coastal Cleanup. In our hot climate, many people carry a bottle of water with them when they are on the go -- away from the house. We encourage people to get into the habit of carrying a sturdy reusable bottle filled with filtered tap water."

"Plant a rain garden." - Simona Perry of Ogeechee Riverkeeper

According to Simona Perry of Ogeechee Riverkeeper, rain gardens "help reduce run-off and soil erosion, improve pollinator populations, and improve water quality." Rain gardens improve water quality by curtailing run-off into local creeks and streams. They also provide groundwater for local vegetation rather than losing it down sewage drains which empty out to sea. Rain gardens are known to reduce the amount of pollution reaching local bodies of water by up to 30%.

"Participate in clean-ups." - Karen Grainey, President, Clean Coast

According to Karen Grainey of Clean Coast, "Unfortunately, there will continue to be a need for clean-ups until society finds a way to stop the flow of plastic debris into waterways.  The more people organizing and participating in clean-ups the bigger the impact."

Maintain your septic system and pick up after your pet. - Laura Walker, Environmental Administrator, City of Savannah, Public Works and Water Resources

According to Laura Walker, Environmental Advisor for the City of Savannah, two of the more hazardous pollutants are fecal coliform and nitrogen/phosphorus. "The sources of fecal coliform in an urban landscape are septic systems that aren't properly constructed or maintained and pet waste left on the ground. Fecal coliform closes beaches and shellfish harvesting.  Sources of nitrogen and phosphorus include fertilizer. An excess of nitrogen and phosphorus causes oxygen depletion, killing aquatic life like fish and even manatees.  People can help by maintaining their septic system and private sewer lateral lines and picking up after pets.  Avoiding fertilizer all together is great by planting indigenous or native plants."  For videos on the City of Savannah's water quality and more, please follow the link below.

"Support government policies which reduce plastic litter and businesses which take measures to reduce their use of single-use plastic." - Karen Grainey, President, Clean Coast

From Karen Grainey, President of Clean Coast, "communities around the world are passing laws and ordinances which discourage and/or ban single-use plastic shopping bags.  Dozens of communities in the U.S. prohibit or restrict the use of polystyrene food containers.  In places without such ordinances some restaurants and shops have voluntarily pledged to stop using straws, polystyrene take-out boxes, foam cups, or plastic shopping bags.  They deserve our support." Visit this page on our website to find local eco-friendly businesses. To learn more about Clean Coast please follow the link below.

"Dispose of cigarette butts properly." Karen Propst with Fight Dirty Tybee and Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers.

"Cigarette butts are the #1 littered item worldwide," according to Karen Propst with Fight Dirty Tybee and Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers.  "They leach toxins into the water and the filters contain plastic fibers that persist as microplastic."  Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers counted over 190,000 cigarette butts on Tybee's beaches in under two years, and removed thousands more. To learn more about Fight Dirty Tybee please visit their Facebook page via the link below.

"Avoid all things made of styrofoam." - Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers

From Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers' website: "Find alternatives to styrofoam coolers! They break easily, and the pieces quickly end up as bird and fish food or are blown out to sea. And it never biodegrades. Styrofoam cups aren't recyclable either. Let's face it: styrofoam is convenient but usually is only used once and then it wreaks havoc on our environment for a very long time. Even the manufacturing process is ranked as one of the most polluting industrial processes. Just don't use it if possible, but if you do, try to reuse it before making sure it ends up in the trash can." For more ways you can help please visit Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers via the link below.

"Give up plastic bags." - Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum

Ships of the Sea Museum and its gardens occupy an entire city block in downtown Savannah, Georgia.  To maintain the property, everyday a staff member circulates around the site picking up trash that has made its way onto the grounds.  One of the most numerous items we find are single-use plastic bags.  With the Savannah River merely two blocks away the journey from the Museum to the river would not be a long one.  Once in the river it can take 10 to 20 years for the bag to break down into tiny plastic pieces known as micro-plastic.  Plastic bags are devastating to sea life who often view them as food (take a look at the picture on the left, it is not hard to imagine jellyfish). Plastic bags are also difficult to recycle as they tend to clog-up sorting machines.  Our best option is to give up plastic bags for reusable fabric totes and support businesses who no longer use them. If you would like to know how we are cleaning up our act, please see "OUR COMMITMENT" via the button below.    

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For more information on pollution from household chemicals, and for a list of chemicals found in personal products which should be avoided, please visit One Green Planet



To learn more about the hazards of styrofoam, view its effects, and discover healthy alternatives, please visit One Million Women website here.


For more information on the devastating effects of plastic bags please visit the American Disposal Services website.


For additional information on the environmental impact of fertilizers, and for hints to reduce the amount of fertilizer you use, please view this video produced by WaterMatersTV.


For more information on recent environmental legislation and ballot measures in Georgia please visit BALLOTPEDIA.  
Also see Protect Georgia.


For additional information on the toxicity of cigarette butts see this article by NOAA.


To better understand the effects of single-use plastics on our environment please visit Environmental Health News.


To learn how to plant your own rain garden visit The Family Handyman website.



For more than 60 years Keep American Beautiful has been working to reduce litter.  For fact sheets and the most up to date research on litter, please visit their website here.



Help keep our community and water ways litter free and provide valuable information utilized to create sustainable solutions through the "Litterati"app.  Available for free at the App Store and through Google Play, "Litterati" places geo-tags on your photographs of litter to help map and identify problem areas.  Once you download the app please join our "Litterati" group MAKING WAVES: SAVANNAH to be a part of our initiative to address this important issue.

Website: https://litterati.org/#home


"[Using Litterati] a group of 5th graders picked over 1,2000 pieces of litter in their schoolyard, noticing that the most common type of litter was the plastic straw wrappers from their own cafeteria, which led to the school eliminating the straws at the request of the students.” –CNN