What can you do to help the water situation?
There are thousands of ways to contribute to helping the water crisis, starting with individual actions from each of us. You might live in an area that has no shortage of water right now and might wonder what actions you could take to help the global water crisis. Then you might wonder why doing some of the the suggested changes below, where you live and where water might be abundant, could help the situation far away in a country like Africa.
Water supply on the planet is cyclical and thought to be finite. A study from 2014 suggests that earth’s water may be more than 4.6 billion years old.
As global populations have increased, there is more demand for fresh water, and more pollutants find their way into our drinking water. Getting clean water to you is very expensive and more and more energy needs to be spent to treat, purify and transport water. Increased food consumption for more people also means more water, land and energy need to be allocated for growing and producing food. Energy is used to move, heat and treat water, but water is also used to make energy, including electricity and fuels. All of this contributes to rising emissions, which effect climate change. Climate change has severely affected the global clean water supply and risks to health, causing droughts, flooding, pollution of natural water resources, damage to infrastructure and ecosystems. People living in undeveloped or poor countries are especially vulnerable, as they already have unstable water and sanitation systems. Here are some of our ideas for actions you can take to be a change-maker for water.
Save water (and energy) by minimizing usage:
Turn off taps when brushing teeth or soaping dishes
Fix leaky taps and pipes
Take shorter showers of no more than 5 minutes and try not to take baths
Change shower heads to water-efficient ones
Rewear clothes that aren’t very dirty to minimize laundry
Run clothes and dish washing machines only when they are full and on economy settings
Recycle water in your own household where possible
Recycle indoor water for watering plants or other outdoor uses
Invest in high efficiency toilets and water appliances when building new or replacing old
Choose water-wise plants and trees for your garden or lawn
Conserving energy is also just an important part of the equation, so be mindful of your energy use too.
Increasing water supply naturally:
Think about collecting rainwater from your roof. Rainwater harvesting could help put less stress on the water supply from the sources around you. A family of 4 uses around 150,000-300,000 litres of water per year. One millimetre of rain falling on one square metre of roof provides around one litre of water in a harvesting tank. Rainwater can be a high-quality water for drinking, but even if you only used collected rainwater for outdoor uses like watering plants, washing the car, it could make a real impact. Americans use about 30% of their water consumption for outdoor uses.
Make different food choices:
66% of total water consumption is used for producing food. One can of soda requires 174 litres of water to produce. One loaf of bread requires 908 litres of water. An amazing 40% of American total food supply is wasted each year, meaning the 25% of all freshwater consumed to make those foods is also wasted!
Eat less meat. Meat requires more water for production than any other food group. Water is needed to grow animal feed, to feed the animals, and then to process the meat. One quarter pound hamburger requires 760 litres of water to produce. Producing meat and animal products make up nearly 30% of the world’s water footprint and use 75% of all available agricultural land in the world. A large part of that is used to grow the feed for the animals instead of growing feed for people.
Eat more natural foods, foods grown closer to home, foods that require less water to make or grow, and foods naturally in season which saves on processing, packaging and transporting foods. In general, eat less and eat better. Reduce the amount you buy and eat, save leftovers, and try to go vegan or vegetarian a few meals a week, if not altogether. Compost food scraps or spoiled foods that you can’t eat.
Don't pour oil or fats down the sink.
Don't put chemicals or cleaning agents in your sink or toilet
Don't dispose of any medications or drugs down your toilet
Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket.
Minimize use of fertilizers and pesticides in your garden
Make sure your litter ends up in a garbage bin
Eat more organic food which uses less synthetic chemicals
Try to avoid using plastic bags, and bottles
Drink less bottled water where quality tap water is available
Plant trees! This helps to reduce erosion that washes pollution into our water sources.
Users can adopt technology to aid in managing their water usage. At a single device level, there are products like Droople to help monitor how your appliances and taps are using water.
At a household level, there are products such as Hydraloop, an innovative in-house water recycling system that collects, cleans and re-uses 95% of the water from showers, baths, washing machines, sinks and air con units. It gets reused for toilets, appliances, gardens and pool usage. You can use the water footprint calculator on the website watercalculator.org to see what your own household water footprint is and see ways to reduce it.
Share your knowledge You can help spread the word by sharing your knowledge about water.
Share with your family, through your social network, your school, your workplace.
You can donate to a water charity. We really like the microfinancing concept of Water.org which loans money directly to families to add a tap or toilet into their own homes, empowering people in their own futures. Gravity.org finances rainwater harvesting projects in countries such as Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, Costa Rica and Puerto Rica. Thirstproject.org is engaging youth to end the global water crisis through education, activating students to promote the clean water cause and build real projects. Donated funds are used to build freshwater wells.
Or Reboot2Kids for directly funding a water project at the Global Outreach School in Masantigie, Sierra Leone!