They say that you can survive for quite a while without food, but if you don’t have access to drinking water, it only takes about 72 hours to die. That’s a pretty scary thought, but it’s also an abstract one. I mean, who among us, sitting here with our morning coffee, reading this blog post on a computer can really imagine what it is like to have NO water?
Yet for over a billion people, drinking water is not a given. There are no fancy bottles of spring water, no free-flowing taps, not even a well in the backyard that isn’t contaminated. How is this possible on “the blue planet”?
From oil spills and fracking contamination to pesticide runoff and manure “lagoons”, to coal fly ash, heavy metals and radioactive waste, our global lifestyle choices are contaminating what was once an abundant resource at an alarming rate.
Unfortunately, that contamination is often all too easy to ignore, as it happens in places far away, which tend to be poor and without the resources to make their stories known. Even when disaster strikes closer to home, trucks stand at the ready to deliver gallon after gallon of this precious resource in single-serve bottles to those affected, thus solving a very real and immediate need, but ultimately making the problem worse.
(suggestion: explore alternatives like this one)
So what do we do?
Today is about blogging for awareness, but for this blog’s readers, most of my words are preaching to an already well-informed choir.
With that in mind, how about taking this one step further? Let’s blog about things WE can do, as individuals, as families, as people from countries with more resources than most. What can we change about our own lifestyles that will ultimately reverse these trends of pollution and scarcity?
I’m moving the rest of this post to my personal blog to talk about my solutions and ideas. If any of the rest of you want to join in, leave a link in the comments section to your follow-up post and let’s spread the word as far and wide as possible. Each of us comes at this problem from a different angle, and we can learn so much from each other about how to make a difference. So, let’s get that conversation started shall we?
How can YOU make a difference?
And here’s part two:
In our household, we try and grow as much of our own food as we can, watered from rain barrels and greywater when possible. This is partially a self-sufficiency thing, but cutting back on pesticides flowing into rivers, sewers and lakes is important. This isn’t always easy or successful, but we’ve made the change and learn a little more, and add a few things to the garden each year.
We have mostly eliminated bottled water from our lives, and when we are in situations where we have to use it, we buy water bottled locally. My biggest challenge in this regard is really liking carbonated water (it settles my stomach) and I’m saving my pennies to buy one of the machines that lets you charge your own tap water. (there’s also a DIY solution that I’m pondering)
We stretch what meat we do buy as far as possible, and make an effort to buy from local and sustainable sources since commercial meat production is a big culprit in water overuse and pollution.
We try to keep a bucket near the tub and use what water that doesn’t go on plants to flush the toilet. (I admit this is something we’re better at doing during drought times. I’m going to go get another bucket and resolve to keep this up year round)
If you’re like me and love a hot bath, you can feel a little better about the amount of water you’re using by transferring the low-flow-tank toilet idea to a larger scale.
We also make an effort to buy secondhand as much as possible, especially with clothing as the production of clothing uses an astounding amount of water. Unfortunately, this is far easier for me than it is for my rather tall husband. But, we try.
My husband and I are lucky enough to both work mostly from home, so we are able to cut our driving by quite a bit. We don’t live in a terribly walkable neighborhood, but it is one easily accessible with a bike or scooter. Since petroleum production is a huge polluter, cutting back on it’s use as much as possible is pretty high on my priority list, but I admit we could both do better in this regard.
We have also taken steps to make our home’s heating more efficient, since producing oil, coal and gas for energy is another huge water contaminant. During the renovation, we’ve been tearing out existing exterior walls and filling them with insulation. We’ve replaced all but three windows, caulked the heck out of our doors, and have added quite a bit of insulation to our attic. Next up will be insulating the crawl space with foam that goes right up under the floorboards. This way even though we use natural gas for our heat, we can use less of it.
This is all totally a learning process and frustratingly slow, as many of the improvements we want to make are out of our budget or are dependent on things we cannot yet control. However, they say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that’s just something I try and remember when I see a problem and start to feel helpless or overwhelmed by not having a ready alternative or solution. The more people who are trying to make these changes, and the more we talk about solutions, the faster we’ll get to them.