Let’s Talk About Something We Take For Granted: Water

You probably see that glass of water pictured above and think nothing of it. You probably turn on your tap to fill up your own glass at home without wondering where it came from. If you are anything like how I was (and sometimes still am, to be honest), you purchase a bottle of water without thinking about what that means for society at large. Well, Blog Action Day 2010 seeks to change that.Blog Action Day 2010 and the Global Water Crisis
Blog Action Day is a day dedicated to a particular cause or issue that affects people all over the world. This year’s issue is water, and it is being written about today by bloggers from all over the world – 143 countries to be exact. The goal is to educate and inform as many people as possible about the global water crisis.

Water is one of those resources that is easy to take for granted. I mean, the earth is made up of about 70-75% water. Who would ever think that there could be a global water crisis? But there is. Here are some stats:

  • 1 in 8 peoplelack access to clean water. That’s about 1 billion people across the globe.
  • Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseasesand kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
  • Every day 4,000 children younger than five years old diefrom preventable, water-borne diseases.
  • The UN predicts that one tenth of the global disease burden can be preventedsimply by improving water supply and sanitation.
  • In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hoursevery year just walking for water. Time spent walking and resulting diseases keep them from school, work and taking care of their families.
  • It is believed that water could be a major cause of war in the future. Some scholars believe that the conflict in Darfur is affected by the water crisis.

The Commercialization of Water

Think about this for a second: Is it or is it not ridiculous that we pay for packaged water? On average Americans consume about 200 bottles of water per year. This has enormous impact on our environment due to the petroleum required for production, the harmful carbon emissions, and the amount of waste produced. Then there is the whole ridiculous issue of the privatization of something that is a public resource. Companies such as Nestle enter the severly under-regulated bottled water industry and make billions of dollars by forcing their way into communities and bottling their water. These communities are often left helpless and unable to fight these large corporations, leaving them particularly devastated in situations like droughts when bottling doesn't stop. The reality is that about a third of bottled water actually comes from tap. So when you weigh the benefits against the costs, it just doesn't add up.

The documentary Flow (trailer shown above) was eye opening for me. It highlights the growth of the bottled water industry, how it affects communities across the globe and, most importantly, its effect on the water crisis. If you want to learn more about the issue, I recommend that you check it out.

Making a Difference Today

Like with anything else, change doesn’t come over night. Making an impact on the global water crisis will take time. But it requires a concerted effort by everyone to effect the change we need to see.

While this issue is still pretty new to me, I've started doing a lot of reflecting on my own water habits. For instance, I have always regularly purchased bottled water because of its convenience (grab one, put it in my purse and go). Now that I’m more aware of the issue, I am working to change these habits. I won’t lie and tell you that I absolutely never buy bottled water. But I’m taking baby steps by doing my best to avoid being in situations where I need to buy bottled water.

What other habits can we adopt?

  • Take shorter showers: The average person aparently uses over 100 gallons of water per day. You can save up to 25 gallons of water a day by just cutting 5 minutes off your shower time.
  • Turn off the tap: Turning off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth or shaving can save about 8 gallons a day.
  • Sweep instead of hose: Don’t hose down your driveway or sidewalk. Use a broom!
  • Landscape wisely: Climate-appropriate plants need significantly less water.
  • Slow the flow: Replacing showerheads with low-flow models and putting inexpensive aerators on faucets can cut water use by up to 20 percent.

You can also take a stance and support the cause in other ways:

  • Sign the petition on the right side of my blog under "Support Blog Action Day."
  • Donate to organizations that are working hard to increase access to water like NICEF and Charity:Water.
  • Fundraise either on your own or with the use of tools provided by organizations like Charity:Water.

We can all start somewhere. And while I recognize the urgency of this issue and the need for all of us to eventually move from taking baby steps to making large scale changes, awareness is the first and most important step to effecting the change we want to see.

Photo Source: Live Earth