Today is World Water Day

Today is World Water Day which was initiated in 1992 at United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.

I see it as a day to think about water…our use of it, and how easily we can get clean water while over 1 billion people are without access to clean drinking water. And I also see it as a day to take action about our use of water and helping others.

Imagine this, in the US we consume approximately 500,000,000 bottles of water each week, and much of what is sold is not any cleaner than what comes out of your faucet. These bottles wind up in landfills (imagine just how many bottles this actually is over a year, or ten years!) and in effect are providing a product that most of the time is a waste of resources from the bottles they come in, the energy used to make the bottles, and the massive bottling plants that are reducing water tables that are needed for the local communities they come from.

To learn more about this you can watch Annie Leonard’s newest video called The Story of Bottled Water (and if you haven’t yet seen The Story of Stuff check it out as well, in just 20 minutes you may really change how you think about all your stuff).

What can you do if you don’t like the taste of your tap water? Well there are a lot of options other than buying water in plastic bottles. You can buy a few large plastic containers and fill them when you go to the store. You can buy a filter system like Brita, or you can put in a filter directly on your faucet or water supply. It may seem more costly to install a system in your home but when you consider how many bottles of water you buy over a year you will see it is definitely cost effective and you won’t be adding to the overuse and waste of resources. When you leave your home you can fill up a smaller plastic bottle or a stainless steel one and take it with you (you can do the same when it comes to coffee to-go as well…think about how many to-go cups you have used over the last year) and you will have your water with you all of the time.

Now I admit sometimes this just isn’t possible but there are also options when it seems impossible. I was just on a trip and I did bring my stainless bottle with me but I still had to get the water somewhere. I really didn’t like the taste of the water out of the tap so I bought one large plastic bottle of water (and I did feel somewhat guilty doing this) and then I filled it over and over while I was away with water from a purified water dispenser, and when I was leaving I left it in a recycling bin. Not a perfect solution but better than all of the bottles I would have otherwise used.

There always are alternatives if we want to find them.

Now another part for me of World Water Day is about the one billion people who are without clean water. Just imagine if you had to spend a few hours of each day traveling, and more than likely on foot, to get some water. If definitely would reduce the amount of time that you had for more productive things, but of course you need water so it can’t be avoided. A few years ago I read about a group called Water Charity that was building wells to supply small villages with fresh water. There are many organizations such as this one that are doing similar work, as well as many religious organizations, so maybe you might want to think about sending a small donation to help out. It is amazing how inexpensive it is to put in a well and what a life changing event this is for villages around the world.

So when you drink that next glass of water hopefully it won’t be from a liter, or smaller, plastic bottle and you will take a minute to appreciate how lucky we are to have access to so much water. We better appreciate it and use it more consciously or we may be in trouble and not have as much of it as we need.