Wasting Water: Do you know how much water do we waste?
Water is everywhere. It’s in our food, our tea and coffee; we need it to make our clothes, our cars, and our laptops - in fact, we’re made of it! The human body is 60% water. We need water to stay alive.
When 70% of the earth’s surface is water, it seems there should be plenty for us all, right? There’s no need to worry about water running out…right?
Most of the earth’s water is salt water we can’t use. Just 1% of water in the world is fresh water that’s safe and available for us to drink. Every human and animal on the planet take from this 1% of fresh water. And the truth is, we don’t share it very well.
While developed countries tend to waste water, 844 million people in developing countries lack access to safe drinking water.
It gets worse.
It’s time to start reducing the amount of water we waste
Water is a finite source, which means one day it could run out. While our need for water increases as populations rise, our water supply doesn’t increase.
As a global community, we all take from the same source. How we, in developed countries, consume water has a direct effect on the amount of clean, safe water available to people in developing countries. That means we all have a social responsibility to use water wisely. Since fresh water is essential to life, everybody has an equal right to it.
If each person in the world took active steps to reduce the amount of water they waste, it could help reduce the impact of water shortages and drought across the world.
The United Nations has already warned that if something doesn’t change, five billion people could be affected by water shortages by the year 2050.
How much water is wasted every day?
Think you don’t waste water? Calculate your water footprint to find out how much your household uses each day.
It’s estimated that the average American uses about 575 litres of water a day, while the average European uses around 250 litres of water. To give you a visual image of that: I need you to imagine a room filled with 250 of those big one litre bottles.
That suddenly seems like a lot of water, doesn’t it?
In comparison, people in developing countries have about 19 litres to use every day – assuming they have anything at all.
We use water for everything, not just drinking, so let’s talk about our other wasting habits.
How do we waste water in our homes?
If you think the only way to waste water is by letting tap water flow for too long (and yes, that is a huge waste of water!) you’re wrong again!
Let’s check out some waste water facts. Did you know:
• one bath uses about 80 litres of water?
• when you flush your little flush (most of us have two flushes now, right?) it uses around 4 litres of water; while flushing the bigger one uses 9 litres?
• one full load in the washing machine uses anything between 50 and 100 litres?
• a five-minute shower uses 45 litres?!
Water shortages aren’t just a ‘poor country’ thing
Sometimes, we think these issues only affect people on the other side of the world; maybe someone in a village deep in Africa or a family in rural Indonesia.
But if you pay attention, you’ll start to realise this problem is really close to home.
In 2018, the UK saw what was thought to be its longest heatwave since 1976. Across the country, people started filling their swimming pools, washing their own cars, watering their gardens, and generally drinking much more water.
This had a dramatic effect on water levels in reservoirs that we rely on for water – especially in the North West of England. One reservoir had lost two feet of water in the space of one week. In the end, United Utilities planned an urgent hosepipe ban for its customers.
After sending out an appeal for people to use less water, the appeal worked. The hosepipe ban was called off due to a reduction in water usage, an increase in rainfall, and because of special measures taken by the company itself.
If you keep up with the news, you’ll know that there have also been serious water shortages (and water restrictions) in some states of America. In February 2018, drought monitors announced that half the state of California was in drought.
The world watched in horror when earlier this year, Cape Town’s government counted down to the ominous ‘Day Zero’: the day that dam levels would be so low that taps would have to be turned off and people would need to go to collection points for their water.
Day zero never came because residents were shocked into action. They started reducing the amount of water they used and started saving water instead. Even now, every person in Cape Town is restricted to only using 50 litres of water a day. Remember: we said a five minute shower uses 45 litres, and one big flush uses 9 litres.
This situation in Cape Town gives the sinister impression that us humans will only change our relationship with water when we’re on the brink of disaster, or even when it’s too late.
When you think about, the solution is pretty simple – and if we each try to change our water consumption habits, we might be able to do something about this global crisis.
In short? Don’t waste water.
You can provide clean water by building wells with Penny Appeal
As well as cutting down your water footprint, you can make a real difference by building water wells with Penny Appeal.
Through Thirst Relief, we transform communities by providing them with access to clean water. These wells give whole villages water not just to drink, but water that they can use to hydrate their animals and grow their crops.
Water doesn’t just save lives; it builds lives too.
THURSDAY 20 SEP 2018