I used to hate drinking tap water. Whenever I turned on the faucet the water was either brown or gray, not the crisp clear water found in cute bottles at the grocery store. We would often buy bottles of water or just wait for the color to change and the “gunk,” as my grandmother called it, to disappear so we could drink it. Repulsed and impatient I would pour a cup of water and promptly toss it out only to hear my grandmother scream, “don’t waste water. do you realize how many people don’t even get a chance to drink water?”
Don’t waste water. Similar to the cries of “dont waste food, there are starving children in Africa/China/our neighbor’s house,” I paid it little attention. The concept was too abstract and therefore insignificant. Afterall, water is every where, right? And what do other people not having drinking water have to do with the crud coming out of our faucet?
In high school, shunning tap water all together wasn’t just a necessity to avoid the taste of garbage down my throat; it became cool. While the water running through the pipes of my New York City apartment improved (and NYC began celebrating the fact that it has the best tap water in the world), it was cool to drink bottled water. Poland Spring was basic, standard. Fancier people got Evian or any one of the new brands popping up during the bottled water craze. I happily bought a bottle of water to show my love of this new trend.
Now folks proudly carry water reusable water bottles and fill it with tap water or filtered water. The emphasis was first cost (did you know you could save $1400/year by refilling a reusable water bottle!) to impact (1.5 million tons of plastic are used each year to make plastic water bottles). Again I followed along yet still ignored why paying attention to water was so important in the first place.
So when the theme was announced for Blog Action Day, I took it as an opportunity to examine why water is such an urgent issue. Then I realized, I dont just drink water; I eat it, I bathe and clean in it, I travel in it, I wear it, and I waste it. The result is an unsustainable habit with worldwide implications. In fact, I think my grandmother understated the problem. It isn’t just about the faucet. It’s about the choices I make and how those choices affect others around the world, including people in my own household.
Given the scope taking action seems impossible. We are encouraged to take shorter showers or not leave the water running. Though this may seem too small what these steps encourage us to do is to stop and think. In other words, instead of living and consuming mindlessly, let’s be deliberate about what we use, especially water.
What is your relationship to water? What changes are you making to reduce water waste?
I like to use blog action day to encourage introspection. I believe in the importance of taking action in the form of volunteering or donating or even blogging, yet these actions seem in vain if we don’t recognize the ways we contribute to inequality and injustice on a regular basis. With simple changes we can influence our friends and families to make better choices and our collective action can and will make a difference.