When you get ready for work, are you aware of how much water you use? Do you leave the tap running while you brush your teeth? How long does it take you to shower?
It’s easy to take water for granted. We turn on a faucet and so much water gushes out that we think, “There must be more where that came from, right?”
Wrong. Today is Blog Action Day, and like last year, the thousands participating hope to bring more focus to an issue that involves health, human rights, and the environment: water.
The scarcity of clean water is a global crisis that won’t go away overnight. But by being aware of the issue, taking action when you can, and influencing others to do the same, we can all contribute to the solution. But you don’t have to go to Ethiopia to learn how to save water. You can help from the comfort of your own home or office.
It’s hard to be motivated by something that does not affect you directly. But when you see how the issue causes other people to suffer — and how you may be contributing to their plight — it’s hard not to be involved. Here are some ways you can be more aware of the water crisis:
- Instead of browsing random websites or reading your friends’ status updates, spend some time to learn about the facts [source]:
- Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
- More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet.
- Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water.
- It takes 6.3 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger.
- The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world.
- Instead of checking Google Analytics or Feedburner, start monitoring a more important statistic: your individual water footprint. The amount of water you consume involves more than what you drink or brush your teeth with. Everything you consume — from the food you eat to the gadgets you use — requires water to produce, however indirectly. Here’s an online water footprint calculator you can use to learn your status and measure your progress.
- Instead of comparing the specs of the newest gadgets or game consoles, compare the water footprint of the things you usually consume — the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the gadgets you use. Here are the water footprints (gallons of water consumed per pound of food) of some common food items [source]:
Lettuce — 15 gallons;
Cabbage — 24 gallons;
Oranges — 55 gallons;
Apples — 83 gallons;
Corn — 107 gallons;
Rice — 403 gallons;
Olives — 522 gallons;
Chocolate — 2847 gallons;
Chicken — 815 gallons;
Pork — 1630 gallons;
Beef — 2500-5000 gallons;
And here’s an awesome graphic that you can use as a quick reference.
Take action when you can
It’s hard, if not impossible, to do a complete overhaul of your lifestyle based on the things you just learned. Fortunately, you don’t have to. There are many ways you can begin reducing your water footprint. The key is to be aware of different opportunities, take action, and if you can, make a habit out of them.
- Turn off the water while shaving or brushing your teeth.
- Shave, wash your face, and brush your teeth while in the shower.
- Shorten your shower time. Use a timer to remind you when to stop.
- Use a single container for your drinking water or beverage each day to cut down on washing.
- Throw your trash in the waste bin instead of flushing it down the toilet.
- Instead of a hamburger or sandwich, have a salad. It’s healthier and has a significantly lower water footprint.
There are hundred of ways to save water at home and at work. And because water is a hidden cost in producing many of the things we consume, the tips we gave last year to reduce your carbon footprint still applies.
Influence others to do the same
Did you know that a single Google search uses up about half a milliliter of water? It’s not much, but with 300 million searches per day, it adds up — 150,000 liters, to be exact. That’s a lot of waste from what was at first just a little water. But the good news is, it works both ways. Deciding to turn the the tap off while brushing your teeth may not do much. But what if you keep this habit up for the rest of your life? And what if thousands of people all did the same thing?
You can start at your work place. Talk to human resources about getting a water conservation workshop or seminar. Brainstorm ways you can all contribute to reducing the water footprint of your office. Put up signs at the pantry or in the comfort rooms to remind people of the value of saving water.
If you can’t get people to act, start by spreading the message. Start conversations about how the scarcity of clean water causes so much suffering around the world. Write articles of your own, comment on blogs and forums, tweet, blog, share links — no action is too small. We got into this predicament together, and this is how we’re going to get out.
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