10 Ways You Can Help The Great Lakes

Want to help with the Great Lakes? Here are 10 different ways:

1. Be a responsible beach steward and don’t leave trash or cigarette butts behind after a visit to the beach. Want to do more? Find out how you can help keep Great Lakes beaches clean by joining our 9,000 Adopt-a-Beach volunteers.

2. Do your part to curb heavy rains from carrying pollutants and litter to the Great Lakes by installing a rain barrel or rain garden at home, or simply divert your rain spouts onto grass or landscaping.

3.  Curb runoff pollution by delaying activities that require a lot of water during and just after rain events, such as laundry and dishes. Find out more about curbing storm water runoff in the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Healthy Beaches Action Guide.

4.  Wash your boat when traveling to and from the Great Lakes and their tributaries to do your part in slowing the spread of invasive species.

5. Don’t dump anything down storm drains. It flows right into our lakes and rivers. Similarly, don’t dump unused cleaners down the drain at home.

6. Don’t flush prescription drugs down the toilet, they end up in our drinking water! Check with your state’s environmental protection department to find out if it’s sponsoring unwanted medicine recycling or household hazardous waste collection days.  More at: “Protecting the Great Lakes from Pharmaceutical Pollution,” 2010, Alliance for the Great Lakes.

7. Use dishwashing soap that is phosphate-free. Phosphate-based detergents can spur algae growth in the Great Lakes. Algal blooms can harbor bacteria and emit a terrible odor. See More Ways to Help: At Home.

8. Set your lawn mower to its highest setting. Taller grass requires less watering, fertilizer, and other treatments than short grass, conserving water and reducing the amount of excess nutrients entering the Great Lakes through groundwater. See More Ways to Help: On Your Lawn.

9. Pick up after your pet on the beach or on the street. Pet waste on the curb finds its way into storm drains and into the Great Lakes, as does pet waste left on the beach.

10. Few know that balloons rank in the top 10 items picked up by beach cleaners across the Great Lakes, posing a hazard to wildlife that become entangled in them. Encourage community leaders to ban celebratory balloon launches in your community in favor of a more environmentally friendly way to celebrate.


Formed in 1970, the Alliance for the Great Lakes is the oldest independent Great Lakes citizens’ organization in North America. Our mission is to: conserve and restore the world’s largest freshwater resource using policy, education and local efforts, ensuring a healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of people and wildlife. More about the Alliance for the Great Lakes is online at www.greatlakes.org.

  Who We Are       NFP Support       Magazine       Programs       Donate