Just like the Earth we, humans, are also mostly water (71% of our bodies are made of water), which makes having access to safe water crucial to our existence, as well as to Earth’s existence. It's ironic that on a planet that is 70 percent water, people don't have enough clean, safe water to drink. But the freshwater on Earth makes up just three percent of the water supply. And less than one percent is freely available; the rest is tied up in ice, as in icebergs, glaciers, and snowcaps. This is important, because the planet is in the midst of what the United Nations is calling a "water crisis."
If we continue living the same way and not making any changes within our water usage we could be facing numbers of 5.7 billion people living in areas where water is short in supply for at least one month per year (by 2050). It is also likely that By 2040, global energy demand is projected to increase by over 25% and water demand is expected to increase by more than 50%.
What’s more, climate change has a huge effect on water shortage and as we all know, more or less, we are pushing the limits with the temperature change and the devastating effects climate change will have on our lives if we don’t do anything to stop it/slower down the process. If we limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, we could cut climate-induced water stress by up to 50%. Since we are on the topic of the future, climate-resilient water supply and sanitation could save the lives of more than 360,000 infants every year. Which means that we are losing lives of our future, the lives of people who would be there to carry on the human race.
A water shortage can affect you no matter where you live in the world. It's arguably humanity's most vital natural resource. It sustains all other activities; it's the essential basis of economies, societies and human life.
What can you do to help slow down the speed of reaching the absolute worst of the water crisis?
1. When buying clothes, opt for second-hand/thrift stores. Did you know that to make ONE pair of jeans, it takes around 10 000 liters of water- yes, the same amount of water a person consumes (approximately) within 10 years. Imagine, by not supporting fast fashion you can provide water supply for somebody for 10 more years! This applies to most clothing items- it takes a lot of water to produce these items, especially within fast fashion, where they are produced in masses and also people working for these clothing companies are underpaid and in inhumane working conditions- another reason not to support fast fashion. Lastly, you will most likely not run into people wearing the exact same clothing as you do and have more unique outfits by shopping second hand!
2. When brushing your teeth (Before brushing, wet your brush and fill a glass for rinsing your mouth) or for example when shaving- turn of the water to not waste any (Fill the bottom of the sink with a few inches of warm water in which to rinse your razor).
3. Take shorter showers - A typical shower uses five to ten gallons of water a minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rise off. Or even better, if possible, opt showers out for baths. A partially filled tub uses less water than all but the shortest showers.
4. Don't let the faucet run while you clean vegetables or if you are washing your dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running either.
5. Use your automatic dishwasher for full loads only (with every wash your dishwasher uses about 95 litres of water). Same goes for using automatic washing machines for full loads only too! (For every cycle it uses about 114-132 litres of water)
These were just a few ideas on how to cut back on your water usage so we would have water for many decades and centuries to come. So that the future generations can grow up and not have to worry about where they're getting their next litre of water from. Each small step counts.
Karolin is an Estonian volunteer in Praxis organisation involved in the World Water Day campaign.