World Water Day (March 22nd every year) is a holiday brought to us by the United Nations to bring more public awareness to global water problems. After all, the whole world is connected by water!
This year, the UN is focusing on water as it relates to sustainable development. Main themes include:
- Water is health (clean hands can save your life): billions of people across the world struggles with clean water and sanitation issues, leading to diseases that originate from improper (and non-existent) toilet usage. In fact, more people have a mobile phone in the world than access to a toilet. Providing sanitation training to these areas can help prevent diarrhea and other health issues that often end in death in these scenarios. Nonprofit Water.org works a lot with these communities – check out their website for more.
- … Nature (ecosystems lie at the heart of the global water cycle): our access to fresh water is based on the health of our ecosystems. When we pollute these water systems, for example, that creates an unsustainable future for these water systems, which we use EVERY DAY for everything we do. Check out this blog post for more about how we can start saving water.
- … Urbanization (every week, one million people move into cities): 1 in 2 people in the world live in a city, and more and more are moving to cities every day. Water systems in cities are notoriously shoddy, leaking and wasting more fresh water than they actually deliver to their people. In fact, one of the largest wastes of water in homes is leaky faucets and pipes (1 trillion gallons, according to the Washington Post).I
- … Industry (more water is used to manufacture a car than to fill a swimming pool): Like I said, we use water for everything. It takes 2.5 gallons to make one sheet of paper. It takes 10 times that to make one pound of plastic. In a lot of cases, not only are companies using water for production, but dumping the water as wastewater, which is pretty much useless at that point. However, the UN believes better business and industrial practices can increase the quality of wastewater to possibly be recycled and used again.
- … Energy (water and energy are inseparable friends): “Water and energy are natural partners. Water is required to generate energy. Energy is required to deliver water.” Water is used to cool generators in coal-fired power plants while is also used to produce parts for wind turbines. Perhaps we can use seawater or wastewater for these processes in the future, the UN says.
- … Food (to produce two steaks you need 15,000 liters of water): this part of water use is perhaps the most ignored. Did you know it takes 4,000 gallons of water to make two steaks? That’s appalling. It takes water to grow food, water food, transport food, and prepare food. Many developing communities need more water than they have, which is contributing to water scarcity in many areas around the world.
- … Equality (every day women spend millions of hours carrying water): “In developing nations the responsibility for collecting water every day falls disproportionately on women and girls. On average women in these regions spend 25 percent of their day collecting water for their families. This is time not spent working at an income-generating job, caring for family or attending school.” For more, visit water.org.
As you can see and may have already known, water is everything. Americans use about 2,000 gallons of water a day through showering, washing clothes, and consuming food. With the increase in population, the world sounds like it’s in trouble.
However, if we can harness wastewater and seawater to substitute for fresh water in some situations, as well as take the time to change some of our personal habits, things can change. Every little bit makes a difference!
Water.org has a celebration going on, and encourages World Water Day participants to use the hashtag “#waterday” on Instagram while sharing photos of YOUR water day (like water saving practices, making donations, etc.). You can also sign up to “donate” your tweets to the cause – they post water facts to your account occasionally, spreading their message, so you don’t have to!