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Blog Action Day: Water

Today, Friday October 15th, is Blog Action Day.  People all over are coming together to share some shocking, disheartening, yet hopeful issues around water.

Did you know that  nearly 1 billion people lack access to clean water, which causes more death than anything else in the world?

African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink.  Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions.  Many scholars attribute the conflict in Darfur at least in part to lack of access to water. A report commissioned by the UN found that in the 21st century, water scarcity will become one of the leading causes of conflict in Africa.  In July, to address the water crisis, the United Nations declared access to clean water and sanitation a human right.  But we are far from implementing solutions to secure basic access to safe drinking water.

While the developing world faces a water crisis, those in industrialized countries consume far more than their fair share.  It takes 24 liters of water to produce one hamburger. That means it would take over 19.9 billion liters of water to make just one hamburger for every person in Europe.  The shiny new iPhone in your pocket requires half a liter of water to charge. That may not seem like much, but with over 80 million active iPhones in the world, that’s 40 million liters to charge those alone.   That cotton t-shirt you’re wearing right now took 1,514 liters of water to produce, and your jeans required an extra 6,813 liters.  The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled.  

The disregard for water resources in industrialized countries impacts more than humans – it causes environmental devastation.  Every day, 2 million tons of human waste are disposed of in water sources. This not only negatively impacts the environment but also harms the health of surrounding communities.  Death and disease caused by polluted coastal waters costs the global economy $12.8 billion a year.   Today, 40% of America’s rivers and 46% of America’s lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life.

So what can we do?

We can try to minimize our water use, of course… There’s a great web page that allows you to analyze your water usage… I will say I was shocked at what I read… I thought with composting toilets and not using sinks for a lot of what we do, having a water efficient dishwasher, that we would be golden… unfortunately, we still have work to do. We’re better than average, but still use over 100 gallons of water a day!! I could not believe it…Check out your water usage on this link: http://www.h2oconserve.org/?page_id=503  After you find out how much you’re using, you can also find ways to cut down your usage.

Another simple and easy thing to do is stop drinking bottled water.  Get yourself a nice glass jar and pour your tap water, well water, or filtered water in there.  It’s one way to help save the world.  Reducing the amount of bottled water we use helps cut back on petroleum, carbon emissions, and of course, waste. It also helps protect ecosystems in rural areas where spring water is mined, often with little regulation on how much water can be pumped. Instead of spending money on bottled water, we should be directing our efforts to making sure all of our water infrastructure is properly maintained and that everyone has clean, affordable water coming from their taps.

The good news is that there are great organizations working on solutions and new tools that empower people to do their part to address the water crisis. Organizations like Water.org and charitywater.org are leading the charge in bringing fresh water to communities in the developing world.  

Please help spread the word…. and get informed! Water, food, and shelter are our basic needs.  We do not want to fight wars over survival.

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About the Author

yurtmanI live in a little sustainable minded yurt village in western NC near AshevilleView all posts by yurtman →