Today, October 15th, is Blog Action Day. This is a yearly event where bloggers around the world join change.org to spread the word about a crisis wrecking havoc world-wide. This year the topic is water. Why water? As change.org points out, “…water moves beyond just a human rights issue. It’s an environmental issue, an animal welfare issue, a sustainability issue. Water is a global issue, deserving a global conversation.”
To go along with the general theme of Hints of Green, I am going to make my contribution by sharing some simple changes you can make in your home and community to help conserve your water supply and keep it clean! Remember, the small things really DO add up- and in addition to your changes I ask that you share these changes with others!
The above photo is from the Mother Nature Network’s slideshow entitled “The 15 Most Toxic Places to Live”. This photo haunts me as one of the most disturbing photos I’ve ever seen. According to the MNN slideshow, this photo was taken in India- in the Yamuna River, which is the largest tributary of the Ganges River. It flows through Delhi, and it’s estimated that 58 percent of the city’s waste gets dumped straight into the river! Millions of Indians rely on this water source you see pictured for washing, waste disposal, and drinking water! This brings us to Blog Action Day Water Fact #1: Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
What can you do about this? Help keep your local water ways clean! According to change.org’s blog action day site, “Today, 40% of America’s rivers and 46% of America’s lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life.” Most trash you see blowing and rolling around is going to eventually make its way to a water source- down a drain or into a creek, river, or lake. It’s such a simple task to bend over and pick something up. Get kids excited about it too- spend an hour with your family or friends picking up trash along your street or near a local body of water. This is a small act but it can and does make a big difference! The trash you keep out of our waterways helps us as well as the wildlife and natural environment.
Another photo from the Mother Nature Network slideshow depicts the North Pacific Gyre. This is an area of the Pacific Ocean that is essentially a trash island- and it’s twice the size of Texas!! MNN’s photo caption reads, “The trash, which is mostly made up of plastic debris, floats as deep as 30 feet below the surface.” Can you imagine!? This is real life- not some fairy tale!
What can you do? Stop buying and using (and re-buying…) plastic bottled water. Avoid plastic packaging as much as possible. Make sure your plastic makes it to the recycling center. And, again, pick up any plastic you see roaming our streets! Just imagine that water bottle as part of this North Pacific Gyre trash island! There are so many alternatives to our plastic objects. Make a concerted effort to take a glass from home for water at your office desk. Get a reusable and plastic-free water bottle for your athletic (and even non-athletic) adventures. Think your bottled water is safer than your tap water? Think again– A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council tested 1,000 bottles and 103 brands of water. 1/3 of the bottled water tested contained contamination including arsenic, bacteria, and synthetic chemicals. Why? Because water that is bottled and sold in the same state (~65% of all bottled water) is EXEMPT from FDA regulation!! Even the water that is regulated by the FDA is subject to less testing and lower purity standards than tap water. If that isn’t reason enough to toss the bottle, I don’t know what is! (You can find more information about the study at nrdc.org).
In addition to unsanitary and polluted water sources, a lot of problems stem from lack of water sources. The blog action day fact sheet lists that “Many scholars attribute the conflict in Darfur at least in part to lack of access to water. A report commissioned by the UN found that in the 21st century, water scarcity will become one of the leading causes of conflict in Africa.” They also tell us that “That cotton t-shirt you’re wearing right now took 1,514 liters of water to produce, and your jeans required an extra 6,813 liters”. So at a time when water scarcity is causing worldwide strife, we should all be doing our part to conserve this precious resource.
So what can you do? There are lots of ways to conserve water in the home. I’m going to highlight two that you can implement today in your own home. First, keep an extra pitcher or small bucket under your kitchen sink. Anytime someone leaves some water in a drinking glass or an ice cube falls on the floor- toss it in this bucket. Need hot water but your tap takes a while to get that temp? Run the water into this bucket until it gets to the temp you need. Then, with the water saved in this bucket water your house plants (or even garden plants).
The second thing I encourage you to do is displace water in your toilet tank. You can also buy toilets that use less water- but for an easy option try this. Find a container that is tall and skinny- that will fit in you toilet tank without impeding on any of the flushing mechanisms- and that has a lid that will seal completely. You fill this container with water (and possibly some rocks at the bottom to weigh it down) and place it in your toilet tank. With each flush you will save that amount of displaced water because the tank does not have to fill up with as much water. Make sense? Here is a step-by-step how to article for more help: Convert-Any-Toilet-to-a-Low-Flush-Toilet.
For more information about water and ways you can help, visit the Blog Action Day website! They have a petition you can sign and a collection of water-related facts and resources. Most of all, forward the information on to others and spread the word! Come back and tell us what other changes you’ve made and how we can do the same!