10.15.2010

Words about Water

It's a wet day in the bloggy world.

Instead of scary, fear-building, depressing facts about the devastating environmental impacts of water scarcity and pollution (that comes later), there's a great documentary on the subject that does what words, at least my words, cannot. It's Tapped and it's not boring so don't make excuses. Watch it and love life.

My wish is that somewhere deep in our heads and hearts Americans will soon comprehend the luxury of life we take for granted while we flush our toilets with completely good, drinkable, potable water. Ever since living overseas where such a wasteful idea is considered stupid, this complaint slips out of my mouth inappropriately during social settings involving too much family or alcohol. Don't kill the messenger. Even Republicans know that much of what we take for granted as Americans is thought of as wasteful and stupid everywhere else on the planet.

It is stupid. It is wasteful and we know it. We whine, "What can I do about it?" while we flush and waste and drink bottled water and whine some more and say inappropriate things around family members.

Here's something to say to those family members who push you over the edge with their assumptions about how much better they are and how justified they are to live better than 99% of all humans who have ever lived on planet earth. (If you don't have family members like this, I feel badly for you. They are good for learning patience and learning how to disagree without disrespect).

This information is from Treehugger.com, and if you think treehugger is an insult, then you more than anyone in your family needs to read this, over and over while enjoying your day living in the richest country ever to exist on the planet where even poor people (not you, of course - you worked hard for your money, if you can justify luck as hard work) live better than most kings in history:

  1. Every week, 42,000 people die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions.
  2. Students in developing countries lose 443 million school days each year due to diseases associated with the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene. Repeated episodes of diarrhea and worm infestations diminish a child's ability to learn and impair cognitive development.
  3. More people have access to cell phones than to toilets. As a result, tons of untreated human waste make their way to water sources causing a litany of diseases, and even death.
  4. The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled.

These facts are disheartening, but they don't have to be the norm. Even in the darkest depths of the water crisis, we found positive solutions that are already being put in place.

  1. Organizations like Water.org and charity: water are leading the charge in bringing fresh water to communities in the developing world by not only building wells in remote villages but also creating sustainable infrastructure to maintain those wells.
  2. The average person uses 465 liters of water per day. But by educating yourself about where you are most wasteful in your water use, you can begin to reduce that waste.
  3. There are small steps we can all take to help keep pollution out of our rivers and streams, like correctly disposing of household wastes.
  4. Communities around the world are saying no to bottled water. Doing so not only drastically reduces water bottle waste, but also saves taxpayers a pretty penny. For example, the city of San Francisco saved $500,000 per year by terminating all of its bottled water contracts.

While the realities of water issues around the world are grim, the organizations and individuals driving positive solutions show us that it doesn't have to be that way. Thank you for joining us, and for all of your work for a future filled with clean water.