5 Ways You Can Avoid The Looming Global Water Shortage

The lifestyle of convenience and consumption so many of us enjoy may be teetering on the edge of an ecological cliff. By the year 2025, water will be extremely scarce for almost 1/4 of the global population (1), and for nearly everyone by 2050 (6)

It's true that the total amount of water on Earth will never change. However, the amount of fresh, potable water does. Water in our world constantly battles chemical dumping, radioactive and biological contamination, and contact with harmful pollution that can reduce its quality and safety that may even render it undrinkable.

In developing countries thousands of people currently have no access to clean water, while in North America it is so abundant that we literally flush it down the toilet. With a population now past 7 billion and still growing, there is simply not enough clean, fresh water on Earth for everyone to live like we do. Eventually there will not be enough to sustain our numbers. With so many people living in the developed world who are unwilling to change their lifestyles and behavior, the road to "extreme water scarcity" (1) seems set in stone. But is there anything we who care about the fate of the planet can do to assure our water security?

The golden rule is to reduce! Cutting down reduces the amount of energy wasted treating needlessly used water, and gives less privileged people a chance to have clean, fresh water.  Here are some ways to lower your water footprint.

5) Watch your direct household use. That means no more 30-minute showers, no running the sink while you brush your teeth, no watering the grass with your drinking water. By consuming more water than you need, you are putting a strain on your community treatment plant and on the global water supply, and costing yourself big bucks. Instead, make sure your appliances are low-water-use models and do your best to only run them when it makes the most sense (i.e. a full load of laundry).

4) Choose clothing wisely. Clothing manufacturing is "the 3rd largest consumer of water in the world". They create a vast amount of wastewater and toxic chemical pollution. Cotton, in fact, is one of the most water-consuming materials found in clothing (it takes about 30,000 liters of water to make 1 kilogram of the stuff), and unfortunately, it's one of the cheapest. Instead of cotton, choose a fabric that provides more fibers per yield, such as Lyocell. If you do choose cotton, mend holes and tears instead of buying new (2)

3) Go veggie. Healthy fruits and vegetables, believe it or not, take a lot less water to produce than meat. For example, it takes 16000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of hamburger, but it takes only 900 liters of water to produce 1 kg of corn (3). Your diet contributes more to your water footprint than your direct household water use (4).

2) Utilize greywater. Recycling the water you've already used can mow down your water bill and water footprint, because you're no longer bringing in fresh clean water to flush your toilet or water your garden. Check out our links and our YouTube channel for more details on how to cheaply and safely build your own system.

1) Support global water projects. Water shortages have already begun in countries such as Somalia and Sudan (5). Many organizations have means to help developing countries set up sustainable ways of providing water to their citizens, such as Free The Children and Water.org.

If you want to calculate your water footprint, go to WaterFootprint.org. Share your results with us below!

Works Cited:
(1)"Water: The Scarce Resource."Geography Home Page - Geography at About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2013. <http://geography.about.com/od/waterandice/a/Water-The-Scarce-Resource.htm>.
(2)"Water footprint: how the fashion industry and your shopping impact the Planet | Elena_SC's Blog." Elena_SC's Blog | Young Italian journalist writing about her life in North America. Elena SC's Blog, 15 Oct. 2010. Web. 8 Mar. 2013. <http://elenasc.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/water-footprint-how-the-fashion-industry-and-your-shopping-impact-the-planet/>.
(3) "Data Table 19." WorldWater.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2013. <www.worldwater.org/data20082009/Table19.pdf>.
(4) "Clothing, food and electricity impact most on water footprint." Phys.org - Science News, Technology, Physics, Nanotechnology, Space Science, Earth Science, Medicine. N.p., 14 Nov. 2011. Web. 8 Mar. 2013. <http://phys.org/news/2011-11-food-electricity-impact-footprint.html>.
(5) Research, Global. "Top Ten Countries at Risk of Water Shortages | Global Research." Global Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2013. <http://www.globalresearch.ca/top-ten-countries-at-risk-of-water-shortages/19996>.
(6) "The Global Water Footprint." Waterfootprint.org. US Infrastructure  - Americaninfra.com, n.d. Web. 8 Mar, 2013. <http://www.waterfootprint.org/downloads/2010-US-Infrastructure.png>.

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