Do your bit to protect our paradise

Wednesday April 19, 2017 Written by Published in Environment
Vinegar and baking soda make up an eff ective cleaning product that’s kind to the environment. 170418221 Vinegar and baking soda make up an eff ective cleaning product that’s kind to the environment. 170418221

This weekly column is supplied by Te Ipukarea Society. It deals with conservation and environmental matters of interest to the Cook Islands. This column was scheduled to appear in Saturday’s paper but had to be dropped for space reasons. It will appear as usual in this Saturday’s CI News.



Many of us have seen our lagoon in its best and, more recently, much worse, state. The condition of our lagoon is influenced by many variables that include change in temperature, rainfall, extreme storms, and of course those actions we as humans conduct on a daily basis. While we may have little control over those naturally occurring factors affecting our lagoon, we as individuals and members of a community do have the power to reduce those human impacts that are affecting our lagoon.

There are a number of ways in which you can play your part, so here’s a few lagoon-friendly practices for you to consider.

Invest in environmentally friendly dishwashing liquid, washing powder, and other cleaning products.

These eco-friendly products such as “EcoStore”, can be found at the CITC supermarket. Typically, they are phosphate-free. When the phosphate used in detergents enters our lagoon, it provides food for marine plants, which can result in seaweed population explosions.

Some eco products may be slightly more expensive, but some are in fact cheaper. These products go a long way in terms of minimising the amount of hazardous chemicals entering our lagoon.

Keep away from body scrubs and face cleansers that contain microbeads. Instead, support those products that use natural biodegradables such as apricot kernels and groundnut products, which achieve the same results. The use of microbeads in cleansing products has been a hot topic around the world, with countries such as the US prohibiting the sale and distribution of products that contain them since 2015.

As of this year New Zealand is also jumping on the microbeads ban. Microbeads are made of plastic which do not dissolve and pose a threat to the environment and our marine life which consume these microbeads thinking it is food.

Use nature’s work at its best and plant bananas and other leafy fast-growing plants that absorb nutrients around your septic tank soak pit. Leafy green plants are great at taking up any nasty wastewater nutrients that may flow out of your underground septic tank.  Even inland septic tanks are adding to our lagoon pollution through runoff in heavy rains.  These plants help stop these nasties finding their way into the marine environment.

Do not put harsh chemicals such as bleach into your toilet as it ends up in your septic tanks. Bleach and other harsh chemicals can kill beneficial bacteria that actually help with the whole decomposition process of our human waste. 

Don’t go overboard with your cleaning products and detergents to get that extra soapy effect.  Use them wisely and in limited quantities. Using limited amounts still gets the job done, is cost effective, and is less harmful for the environment.   Better still, use natural products such as sodium bi-carbonate (baking soda) with vinegar, or lemon juice to sanitise your bench tops and remove mould from your vanity unit.

Remember, short showers mean less waste water ending up in our lagoon. So challenge yourself and try and keep your showers to three minutes each time. Less is always best!

By practicing some or even all of these lagoon friendly tips, you will be doing your bit to reduce those unnecessary stresses impacting our precious lagoon. So show you care and protect a little paradise.

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