One Simple Thing is my Friday contribution to provide you with an easy thing you can do to “be the change” you want to see in the world. Fairly ambitious, no? Think of it as part Martha Stewart (“It’s a Good Thing”) and part social activist.
Here’s our first opportunity: World Water Day on March 22, 2009. Water conservation is one of the areas I am focusing on this year, so there will be lots more info in the blog about my journey into the ways of water.
- more than 1 billion: the amount people around the world that lack access to clean, safe drinking water.
- 2.5 gallons: The amount of water per person much of the world is allocated.
- 400 gallons: The amount of water per person used by the average American citizen; 30 percent of this is used for outdoor purposes, such as watering the lawn.
- 88 percent: Of deaths from diarrhea are caused from unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation; this translates to more than 1.5 million of the 1.9 million children under five who perish from diarrhea each year. This amounts to 18% of all under-five deaths and means that more than 4,000 children are dying every day as a result of diarrhoeal diseases.
Overwhelming. But knowing the facts should empower us, not make us feel powerless. One of my favorite quotes is to work towards progress, not perfection. In that spirit, let’s consider what we can do, simple things, to change our water habits:
- Attend one of UNICEF’s sponsored Tap Project restaurants in your city and pay $1 for tap water that you would normally get for free. Every dollar raised through the Tap Project supports UNICEF water, sanitation and hygiene programs.
- Install a low-flow showerhead to reduce your shower water use by 20 to 60 percent.
- Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Fill the basin for washing or shaving.
- Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl, and fill you sink to wash and rinse dishes, instead of running the water.
- Use a rain barrel to collect water from your roof's downspout to irrigate your garden.
- Give up the plastic water bottles once and for all. This is a big one for me. I swore off bottled water 2 yrs ago and have not looked back and encourage you to do the same. More on this topic later, but in case you are wondering why this action is relevant here, estimates are that it takes up to 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.
Or, if you are overambitious, combine a few of the items above. I am going to renew my water conservation commitment with something simple I am sure you all have at home: a Rubbermaid pitcher. Take said pitcher with you into the shower and place it on the shower/tub floor and use it to catch the water while you wait for it to heat up. If you have a fancy tankless water heater and have hot water on demand, I am jealous of you. And you should pick another simple thing from the list. Maybe two, just because you make me jealous.
Back to the pitcher of water, I usually end up with at least a 2 gallon pitcher of water from the exercise above. I then use the water for a variety of tasks; brushing my teeth, rinsing fruits and veggies, running the disposal, and my personal favorite, rinsing out my recyclable. I was having a moral conflict with wasting clean water on rinsing out cans, so this little water gathering plan has made me much happier. Rain barrels are on my list too for spring. I will keep you posted on how that adventure turns out.
What action will you commit to for World Water Day this year?
Learn more: Treehugger’s Guide to Water Conservation