Today is World Water Day.
Here in the suburbs of New Jersey in the United States, water isn’t something I think about much. It runs clean from my sink, my shower, and my hose. It rains often here. Our general area is criss-crossed by myriad lakes, streams, creeks. New Jersey is known for its wetlands. Water, here, is never an issue. How fortunate am I?
- One out of every eight people lack safe drinking water. 884 million people total. That’s nearly three times the population of the United States. (source: UNICEF/WHO. 2008.)
- Approximately 1.2 billion people don’t have adequate sanitation; two in five. It’s the world’s biggest cause of infection.
- 3.575 million people die each year from a water related disease (every twenty seconds, one of these dead is a child). (source: WHO. 2008. Safer Water, Better Health: Costs, benefits, and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health)
- 200 million collective hours are spent in one day by women collecting water for their families; and they walk an average of 3.7 miles to do it. For water; so basic and necessary. Hours that could be spent caring for family, working an income-generating job, or going to school.
For more staggering facts… http://water.org/news/resources/
It breaks my heart to believe so many people are suffering and dying in this world for something I barely give a thought to in my own life.
So what can we do?
Be more conscious of our own water usage:
- Take shorter showers. In the US, a 5-minute shower (and really, who takes just a 5-minute shower) uses more water than a typical person in a developing country slum uses in a whole day. (source: 2006 United Nations Human Development Report)
- Don’t let the water run when you brush your teeth.
- Stop eating meat. It takes TEN TIMES as much water to make one pound of beef as it does to grow one pound of wheat (Really. Check it out.).
- Stop buying bottled water (Why not? Watch this film.).
- Don’t wash your clothes after every use, unless you really need to (think jeans, sweaters, towels – usually they just aren’t that dirty after one wear).
- Use cloth diapers instead of disposables. I wish I had.
AND you can…
- Write a blog post, tweet, update your Facebook status, or just tell someone about World Water Day.
- Read about water.org and what they are doing to help the global water crisis, and donate to their cause to help bring clean water to more people. It can change, or save, a life.