There are so many things we can do at the lake, such as swimming, kayaking, birdwatching, and fishing. One of the things we shouldn’t do at the lake is use it as a bathtub.
Personal care products (including shampoo, shower gel, and bug repellant) and pharmaceuticals are collectively referred to as PPCPs—a recently identified class of environmental pollutants. It’s important to prevent these products from directly entering the lake when possible.
The best thing to do is simply let the water do the work of cleaning your skin and hair rather than adding soaps and shampoos. There are biodegradable shampoos that are marketed as safe for the environment. However, biodegradable simply means they can be broken down by natural processes, which could take weeks to years to work—leaving plenty of time for the product to do some damage.
The best practice is to never wash with soaps or shampoos directly in the lake. If you’re going to wash outside, please use biodegradable soaps, wash 30 m from the shoreline, and dispose of the soapy water in a six-inch-deep hole where the soil can filter the water, and the bacteria in the soil can properly break down the soap.
It may seem absurd that just one person washing in the lake can pose a risk. However, our lakes are already impacted by septic systems, runoff from lakefront properties, and pollution from boats—every little bit counts. Let’s work together to keep our lakes clean and safe for us, visitors, and the wildlife that depend on them for a good time.
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