On World Water Day, global activists ask us to think before we drink. What can you do?
Every March 22, World Water Day encourages us to think about how crucial clean drinking water is, and who doesn't have it.
Not all water is drinkable. Sea water must be desalinated before it's drinkable, and pollution has limited the fresh water that's drinkable. Climate change is also beginning to shift world water distribution, and some regions are gradually becoming more arid. It's estimated that 1 in 4 children in 2040 will live in areas with limited access to any water, never mind clean water.
At Saving Grace Day and Boarding School, we use water tanks to make sure our students have clean water to drink. This expense is provided for by donors, but some places aren't so fortunate.
Water is used for so much, not only is it vital for life, it's also the primary means of caring waste as sewage, it's used in mining and other industrial operations, and in agriculture, to name just a few functions. In developed countries, especially those with strict regulations, there's laws and infrastructure to limit pollution, and filter water. It's not perfect, but it does help protect people and the environment. In developing countries, there's often less infrastructure and less regulation. This means that somethings that are taken for granted in the US, or Europe, don't work as well in poorer nations like Bangladesh or Mozambique.
Sewage systems have especially had trouble translating. It's one thing to set up residential plumbing and install toilets, it's quite another to build waste treatment facilities and install enough plumbing and sewage systems to control the water in a whole city or even a whole region. It is much cheaper to channel waste to a nearby river and let the river carry the waste away. Yet those same rivers provide drinking and washing water, which encourages the spread of water-borne diseases. Fortunately there's a growing trend to find effective water-less toilets.
What can you do?
1. Conserve water.
I know, you've heard it a thousand times. That's because it's such a good idea. Water travels around the world, across oceans, and filtered through marshes and swamps to move through rivers and streams. It evaporates in one place and comes down as rain somewhere else. Water wasted in one place is water denied another place. Drinking water is especially precious, as there is far less drinkable water than there is polluted or salty water.
What are the simplest ways to conserve water?
a) Recycle. Water is a key component in mining, industrial and manufacturing processes. Even a plastic bottle represents a significant amount of resources. By recycling, some of those resources, including water, are conserved.
b) Don't waste food. Agriculture and livestock use up a LOT of water. That water is wasted when your scraps get tossed in the trash. There's a million creative ways to plan a head to that you get tasty, attractive leftovers. Here are 17 recipes to get you started.
c) Use less water. My favorite, put bricks or full bottles in your toilet tank to use less water when you flush. You'll never know it's there, and you'll save money.
2. Help organizations and companies that are helping water-stressed regions. Not wasting our own water is a great step, one everyone should consider taking. A fantastic second step is considering our global water crisis. There are hundreds of organizations that help different regions with water scarcity, water born despises, water infrastructure, and portable water solutions. I encourage everyone to do their own research, to find an organization they like best. Here are some well known organizations to get you started.
a) Charity Water
d) More great organizations.
3. Support clean energy alternatives. Pollution travels because water and air travel in a complex weather system around the globe. The carbon, methane, and other chemicals in our atmosphere are contributing to climate change, which is rapidly causing some regions of the world to become much more arid. When you support alternative energy sources, like wind, solar, and nuclear, you help reduce our dependence on coal and oil.