“Doooon’t waaaaste water. Water. Water. Water.” I clearly remember that song sung on Sesame Street about 20 years ago. (Gosh that just made me feel old.) And, that particular song really stuck with me. I used to tell my parents to stop wasting water constantly! “Turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth.” “Don’t shower so long.” Yadda yadda. I was an obnoxious kid, but I was just trying to help.
Fast forward 20 years, and I became a rather cynical adult. I still can’t quite wrap my head around water conservation. I understand water pollution, but not water conservation, and this just might be because I live in an area where water is abundant. Maine has well over 200 fresh water lakes and ponds as well. The water I flush down my toilet, gets cleaned, and reused. The water I use to brush my teeth gets cleaned and reused. It’s not as if the rain is just going to stop, or that our oceans are going to dry up. Clouds are not going to disappear because evaporation has randomly stopped happening – at least none of that is going to happen any time soon, and even if it did, there is no way to “conserve” enough water for the entire planet to survive through a global drought. So why on earth do I need to “conserve” water?!
Thankfully Facebook informed me today that March 22nd is World Water Day. I had no idea there was such a thing, so of course I had to read up on it a bit. I found a couple of sites that really helped bring water conservation into a clearer light. I think what it really comes down to is not necessarily turning off the tap water in between dishes, or when brushing your teeth, but there’s a much larger picture that needs to be addressed , which is the entire point of World Water Day.
Water conservation isn’t just about saving water on a small scale. I suppose maybe any little bit we try to conserve may help, but a big portion of it comes down to food production, consumption, and the overall waste. We waste so much food, and that means we waste water. I read on UN Water that 30% of food world wide is wasted. And it takes a massive amount of water to produce even that 30%. Even something as simple as creating a water bottle that filtered water comes in takes more water to make than it actually holds. On average, Americans alone toss out about an average of 1lb of food per person per day. It takes approximately 390 gallons of water to make 2.2lbs of wheat, and approximately 3,900 gallons of water to make 2.2lbs of beef. That is insane!
The USDA said that the average American consumes an average of 195lbs of meat per year. Although this does include poultry, fish, and other red meats. So, technically the numbers I’m running would be a little different if we got into how much fish and poultry the average person eats in addition to how much water it takes to produce it all. However just for funsies, imagine if this was just beef. That would be more than 345,681 gallons used per person to produce that much meat. Then, if the average person is wasting 1/3 of their food, that’s 115,227 gallons of water absolutely wasted. As of today there are an estimated 313,000,000+ Americans. Obviously we can’t lump everyone in together, because we don’t all waste a third of our food. But, for arguments sake, and to get an idea of how much water is wasted, multiply 115,227 x 313,000,000. That’s 36,066,051,000,000! More than 35 TRILLION gallons of water are wasted a year. That doesn’t even include other foods or items such as clothing, cars, and even the bottles of water we buy with water already in them.
Alright. I give. That seems a extremely excessive and a good reason to conserve water. We’re producing more than we can eat and by doing so we’re not only wasting food, but other valuable resources. The saddest thing about all of this, is that there are places in the world who struggle when it comes to finding clean water sources. Seriously, they’re not kidding in Mexico or Nepal when they tell you not to drink the water. (I’ve seen what can happen. It’s not pretty.) I know places like WaterAid US take donations to help provide clean water to those who do not have access. It’s scary to think that so many people, especially children, are dying because they can’t get to clean water, yet we’re able to waste so much. I’m not exactly sure how my not wasting food translates into clean water for others, but at least it’s a start.
Tree Hugger is one of my favorite web sites as of late (say what you will), and when I was trying to figure out the point of water conservation, I happened upon one of their articles that listed out how much water it takes to produce a large variety of items we use quite often. Even a latte takes 53 gallons of water to make, a gallon of paint takes 13 gallons of water, and even those darn plastic water bottles takes 1.83 gallons just to produce the bottle. Sheesh.
However, I do need to say that conserving our already fresh water is not our only option, and it isn’t even our only utilized option. I’ve often wondered why this doesn’t seem to be discussed more often, but there is a process called desalination that removes the salt from sea water, and turns it into drinking water. It’s not even a modern process! I guess I need to keep reading up on all of this. But, like I’ve said before on my blog, becoming more eco-friendly is a brand new journey for myself and my family! I’m enjoying (most) every second of it except when I find there are things I love that I should give up. But anything can be done with baby steps. My first step in conserving water, is to avoid wasting as much food as possible. We do that a lot in my house. Well… most of it goes to the dogs (thank you Juniper for that). But, we do have plans to start composting. Even making smaller servings at dinner, and grocery shopping for only the foods we know we can eat within a certain time frame is a good start. “Doooon’t waaaaste waaaater….”
**This is Willow from Freetail Therapy chiming in at the end here, because I found the video that was referred to in the above guest post and I had to add it. Feel free to get it stuck in your head too!**