Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010: Water

I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and we are extremely fortunate to have water literally everywhere -- I live in the "City of Lakes, " in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes." We have access to the largest freshwater lake in the world, (Lake Superior,) thousands of rivers, streams, smaller lakes, ponds, etc. in every corner of the state. Some lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, located in northern Minnesota, are so clean, you can dip a cup into the middle of the lake and safely drink the water!

So, why should I care about water? After all, I'm surrounded by it! It's plentiful!

Simply put, not everyone is as fortunate as I. Large portions of the world's population do not have access to fresh, clean drinking water on a daily basis, having to filter or treat the water they do have access to in order to safely consume it. I remember visiting Haiti in 2008, and having to drink, brush my teeth with, and even wash my face with filtered/bottled water -- and we had to make sure to keep our mouthes and eyes closed while showering!

While lack of access to clean water is tragic, there is a strong possibility that in the future, we may face a lack of clean water, period. Some suggest that while we war over oil today, we may very well war over water in the future -- possibly even in my lifetime.

What can we do? While I, as an individual living in a water-saturated state cannot singly help provide water to those less fortunate than I, I can choose to conserve and protect the water I do have access to -- I choose to remember that water is important and valuable, and I try very hard not to waste it. America uses, on average, twice as much water per person than any other country in the world! I say, "not me!"

Choices I make that help conserve water:

(Statistics taken from The Green Book)

~ We have adopted the, "if it's yellow, let it mellow" rule for toilet flushing at home. I realize this seems gross, and it did seem gross to me at first, but when you learn more about how much clean drinking water is flushed down your toilet, (about 40 percent of your daily useage,) it's shocking. One toilet flush uses about 4 1/2 gallons of water, which is more water than the average person in Africa uses in an ENTIRE DAY for drinking, cooking, bathing, and cleaning! Tolerating a little pee saves a LOT of water over the course of a whole day, week, month, year, lifetime!

~ I always turn off the water while I brush my teeth. I guess this seems like common sense at this point, but I save 5 gallons of water at each brushing -- and if everyone in the US did this, we'd save 1.5 billion gallons every single day!

~ We take our car to a commercial car wash, which saves about 100 gallons per wash. Also, a little known fact -- many commercial car washes recycle and reuse rinse water. This also keeps soapy, polluted water out of our rivers and lakes!

~ We travel infrequently, but when we do, we make sure we decline maid service during our stay in a hotel. Washing all of those sheets and towels uses about 200 gallons of water per day! I don't change my sheets and towels every day at home -- why do it on the road?

~ We buy as many organic food products as possible, and eat a vegetarian diet. We help keep millions of pounds of pesticides per year out of the nation's rivers and lakes by eating organic foods, and help save tens of thousands of gallons of water per year by eating a vegetarian diet. Even choosing a few organic products each week at the store and preparing one or two meatless meals per week can make a huge difference!

~ We use as many homeopathic remedies for common symptoms/illnesses as possible, including teas, herbs, honey, etc., which helps keep millions of pounds of pollutants out of the air, water, and soil. Manufacturing of over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals is extremely taxing on our environment. Funny how a cup of hot herbal tea with honey is much more soothing than an artifically-flavored cough drop, and it's even better for the environment!

~ I buy only organic cotton tampons, which help keep pollutants out of air, water, and soil. If 5% of women used organic cotton tampons, we could save 750,000 pounds of pesticides each year!

I'm not perfect here, but I do think that little choices can make a big difference, especially if we talk and write about our choices, inspiring others to do the same. What do you do to conserve water?

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