Water

Water is essential to life on Earth. While the amount of water stays more or less the same, it is the quality of that water (and where it is located) what changes and affect our lives.

Through aggressive development, misuse, changing the climate and the many sources of pollution, we have depleted or contaminated the “good” water from its sources (such as rivers, lakes, aquifers and glaciers) and now there is less and less available not only to us, but to other forms of life: entire ecosystems are being changed or completely destroyed. With more human beings expected by 2050, water has already become a source of war and human displacement: entire civil wars have been shaped around human displacement due to lack of drinkable water and water to irrigate crops.

However in the West and many other countries, we flush this precious water down the toilets, waste it by tones taking long showers and washing clothes and stuff…

Take this example: only 150-200 years ago, humans owned less than 10% of the clothes they own today. Most clothes were passed from one generation to the next or shared among big families and neighbours when the owner grew up or passed away. People would sew their own clothes and repair them until they couldn’t be wore any longer: people rarely washed their clothes because 1) it was not considered that important (cultural convention); 2) they were made of textiles that were difficult or impossible to wash or very resistant to stains and wear and tear and 3) washing was a difficult task so it was done during summer time and in rivers or lakes or when people took baths…

Baths are the same: people didn’t have “showers” and in most cases baths were rare: people would take a bath (sometimes many using the same water one after the other) during summer time or for special events (i.e. a wedding) and those living close to rivers and lakes would use those areas to wash themselves (and their clothes)

Water was considered a precious resource (it has always been!) so people use small amounts to wash their hands, faces and so on…

I’m not saying we all stop taking showers or washing our clothes. However, there are entire countries where people are struggling to find drinkable water, we had just had one of the worst droughts in decades with dozens of wildfires and trees dying…the damage in some ecosystems (and towns and peoples) is already done…this is something to deeply think about: how we use the precious water, wher it is coming from and whether we have the “right” to misuse it…

What you can do:

  • Learn about the sources of the water you consume at home, work, and school. Where the water comes from? How does it get there? What processes and resources are used so the water you use comes back as clean and drinkable water?
  • Try to find out: What happens with all the rain that falls over your roof, driveway, parking lot and garden? Where does it go and what does it create in its way? How does it affect the plants, beings, stuff that is in its way and how these materials it carries affect the other end where the water is discharged?
  • Look around your house, in and out: can you collect (“harvest”) rain water when it rains? You may not need an expensive system to do this nor a specialist: in Venezuela and Argentina, people who don’t have the luxury of water tanks and pipes, have open barrels around the house (some inside, to collect water from the shower or kitchen/washroom sinks, some outside to collect the rain water)
  • Try washing your clothes, linen and the like less: you may hang them outside when is windy and/or sunny, or wash only the stains until they need a real wash
  • Buy sturdy clothes made of good material that is stain resistant
  • Use the “three sink” method for washing your dishes and pans: one with hot water and soap, one with clean water and one with cold water and a bit of vinegar to disinfect. You can use buckets or deep trays if you only have one or two sinks
  • Close your tap when you are washing your teeth, hands or face and open only when rinsing. Better: have the water you’ll use in a small bucket or pot and use it from there. If you use a big bucket to collect this, you’ll also have water to clean your toilet
  • In the toilet: “If is yellow, let it mellow…if it is brown, flush it down”…if you are brave enough, experiment with composting toilets: you can start once a month to have all the family practicing for real emergencies when toilets will not be available, check this page to learn more: http://humanurehandbook.com/album_toilets/album_toilets.html
  • Reuse the water whenever possible: try to live a week with water from a barrel and see how it goes!
  • Have drinkable water in clean containers for an emergency and rotate every six months
  • How else can you save and respect water?

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