This year’s topic for Blog Action Day is (clean) water and the growing concern surrounding its limited supply. It’s a broad subject, but an important one that is rarely discussed in the land of free tap water.
Just this summer, the UN’s General Assembly officially declared access to clean water as a human right. Currently, 884 million people across the world (roughly 1 in 8 ) do not have access to clean water. So the question becomes, how do we change that situation and help grant people this basic right?
In researching the topic at hand, I came across a lot of interesting facts involving water consumption, specifically in the United States. For example, it’s common knowledge that our energy consumption is high (even for a developed nation), but are you aware of the amount of water required to produce the energy we consume? An average day in the United States sees more than 500 billion liters of fresh water used in power plants. Other undercover sponges include jeans (1800 gallons per pair), beer (1500 gallons per barrel), and coffee (53 gallons for a latte).
Perhaps one of the most threatening and fastest growing consumers of H20, however, is bottled water. Aside from the obvious liquid itself, the plastic bottle is getting a huge piece of the clean water pie: 1.85 gallons per bottle. Not only that, but after the bottle is empty, it ends up in a landfill, not a recycling plant, 86% of the time.
We often hear about society’s addictions to oil, television, and consumption in general, but one of our most recent addictions is bottled water. There are a lot of reasons (in addition to those already mentioned) to avoid it: it causes pollution, it’s often taken from unwilling rural areas, and it costs more than gasoline. Not to mention, we’re fortunate enough to have a perfectly good, free substitute virtually everywhere we look. So how did we end up thinking that bottled is better than tap and become willing to spend money on something we can get for free? The answer lies in some very clever tactics from some companies looking to grow their sales. By scaring us to question the safety of tap water (which by the way is highly monitored for safety) and seducing us into thinking bottled water from a fresh mountain spring is surely better (and even more fashionable), we’ve turned a luxury into an everyday, costly addiction.
By taking simple steps to transition back to our free tap water and reducing the production of bottled water, we can free up some of the world’s clean water resources to be used in areas where there is no access to water at all. This would be a reasonable step in the long process of granting this basic human right to less fortunate people around the world.
So rather than grabbing that Dasani with your lunch, grab a glass, your Nalgene, Sigg or other reusable bottle of choice, fill it at the tap (yes, almost all restaurants offer free tap water, and the water from the soda fountain is absolutely fit for drinking), and feel good knowing you’re drinking clean water, saving resources, decreasing waste, and even saving yourself a few bucks.