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Water you doing?

As the global population continues to grow, the global water crisis worsens everyday. Here are some ways you can help!

Dear Reader,

Among the many things New Year’s is famous for, like the countdown, fireworks, and partying, perhaps the most defining characteristic of the turn of each year is the New Year’s resolutions each person sets as a personal promise that the next year will be better than the last. Although most people set New Year’s resolutions like going to the gym more or spending more time with family, how many of you set resolutions to be more eco friendly? If you did, great job! (We hope you haven’t broken them two months in :) ) If you didn’t, it is not too late! We have some green habits you can start anytime.

One of the most serious threats the Earth is facing today is the increasing scarcity of usable water for everyone as Earth’s population continues to increase dramatically. Although water covers about three fourths of the Earth’s surface, less than 0.3% of the water is usable by humans. The booming global population is making already water-risk regions into water-stressed regions and water-stressed regions into water-scarce regions. According to the WWF, 2.7 billion people currently find water scarce for at least one month of every year. Many of the water systems that keep ecosystems thriving and sustain our growing cities have become stressed. Surface water sources like rivers, lakes, and aquifers are drying up or becoming too polluted to use. More than half the world’s wetlands have perished. Climate change is drastically changing weather and rain patterns around the world, causing droughts in some areas and floods in others. According to the WWF, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages by 2025 at the current consumption rate. Earth’s wildlife ecosystems will suffer even more as we scramble for water. Water is the driving force of humanity as nearly every process in the world requires water. We typically only think of water as the water we drink and shower with daily. However, water is also integral for an endless amount of other things, such as agriculture irrigation, manufacturing goods, mining, aquaculture, and many more. A future of the world cannot exist if our most precious resource is not conserved properly, a movement that must start with us Americans.

We Americans are the most wasteful people in the world, with the average family in the US using roughly 552 gallons of water a day while the average African family uses only 5 gallons a day (African Wildlife Foundation). Even worse, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans also waste 40% of our food, which in turn, also wastes 25% of America’s yearly freshwater, as water is used in food production. We often use more water each day than what is necessary. However, there are many small things each one of us can change in our lives that will make a difference in combatting our current water crisis to ensure that our children and grandchildren also have water to use.

Green Generation member Sebastian Delgado has some ways he saves water on a daily basis. Here are some of his top tips on conserving water!

Conserving water is not about limiting yourself to 30 seconds in the shower and choosing to not wash your hands. It’s simply about remembering that every ounce of water counts.

As an athlete, I can get quite dirty. There are few things more comforting than a warm, hour-long shower when I come home after a game, but I always limit myself to a 5-6 minute shower. A way I use to keep myself from showering too long is music. Before I step into the shower, I carefully pick two of my favorite songs at the moment, trying to stay at a total time of around five minutes. Limiting excessive water use during showers by cutting short your showers can save thousands of gallons of water a year, as each minute less in the shower saves about 5 gallons of water, according to The Guardian. Furthermore, purchasing a low-flow shower head, which sells for as little as $5, also helps save significant amounts of water. To put things into perspective, 264 gallons of water weighs approximately 1 ton. The low-flow shower heads typically use about 1.5 gallons of water every minute compared to the 2.5 gallons/minute of most conventional shower heads. Unfortunately the average shower time in the United States is 8.2 minutes according to Home Water Works, meaning that the average person who utilizes a conventional shower head uses about 20.5 gallons of water a shower. The average person showers about once a day, so they would use more than 33,000 gallons of water (about 133 tons) every year more than a person who showers for 5 minutes using a low-flow shower head.

Furthermore, I make sure to turn the faucet off while I brush my teeth and when I wash my hands. The average flow rate for a faucet is 2.5 gallons per minute. Don’t waste all that water while you brush! I turn off the faucet after I wet my toothbrush and leave it off until it’s time to rinse. Likewise, I turn off the tap while washing my hands. Is it really necessary for the water to run while you’re scrubbing your hands? Save gallons of water by turning the faucet off after you’ve wet your hands until you need to rinse.

Each minute you don’t leave the tap on will add up, and you can save hundreds of tons of water each year!

Also, I encourage my parents to fix each and every single leak or dripping faucet I find as soon as possible. According to National Geographic, an average of 10 gallons per day of your water footprint (14% of your domestic water use) is lost to leaks. Again, yearly, that number adds up to a massive amount.

Last but not least, spread the word to your friends, family, and your community! Although you are only one person, you are one person with a voice. Through our voices, wars have been won, revolutions started, and civil rights earned. The water crisis is no different. We will win this!

All of the above are small changes that can make a big impact on our planet. The basis of conserving water starts with realizing that every drop and second of water counts. What seems like an insignificant amount of waste at the time can and will add up. For example, instead of throwing away that last sip of water, put the cup back in the fridge for later. After all, it takes up the same energy as throwing it away! Keep in mind that saving water is not hard! Each one of us can play a part in making sure that future generations can experience the same Earth we see today. It’s through these little things that add up that we can make a difference in protecting our precious planet.

-Sebastian Delgado, Green Generation member