I sometimes fall into a trance while washing dishes, brushing my teeth, taking a shower, and not to mention the relaxation of a bath. Something about the sound of the water rushing away from me, cleansing me, and my surroundings. If the sink is full, it may take me about half an hour to get through it, all this time the water runs. It runs with pieces of breakfast and dinner, the remains of yesterday follow their way down the drain, scraped away from me. I listen to the sound of an artificial waterfall as I brush my teeth. Face caught in contemplation as the brush makes its dutiful circular rounds, the flow of water soothes me. What better way to unwind and relax at the end of the day than under the massaging and pore opening power of a long, hot shower? Relaxation exercises tell us to imagine all our negativity and fear being washed away with our bath water. I’ve tried this and something about the mental image of what you don’t want held close to you being carried away by the sound and the feel of the water, calmly begins to heal the mind and body instantly.
It was during a dishwashing night that I began to see the error of my ways. Entranced by the sound of the water, I began to imagine tracing its descent through the pipes, and my mind flashed shameful and angry with images of cracked and barren lands, and children drinking murky water.
We are the blue plant and the proverbial water children. Seventy-two percent of the earth is covered in water, of that water, 97 percent is salty and only 3 percent is freshwater. Seventy percent of the freshwater is locked in rapidly melting icecaps. The six major countries home to 50 percent of the world’s freshwater resources are Brazil, Russia, Canada, Indonesia, China and Columbia.
One-third of the world’s population already lives in what are considered “water-stressed” countries. A “water-stressed” country is a country where there is not enough water for all uses, whether domestic, agricultural or industrial. Studies conducted by the United Nations indicate that by the year 2025 more than 2.8 billion people will live in 48 countries facing “water stress”. Of these 48 countries, 40 are either in the Near East and North Africa or in sub-Sahara Africa. It is projected that by the year 2050 the number of “water stressed” countries will rise to 54, and that these countries will be home to 40 percent of the projected world population of 9.4 billion people.
You and I are 55-75 percent water. Break down our vital organs and we see a link of synchronicity. Our brains are 70 percent water, lungs 90 percent water, blood 83 percent water, muscle 70 percent water, and our bones are 50 percent water. Take the water away and we wither like the scorched lands, no longer able to produce nor sustain life.
We let water seep and slip through our fingers everyday. Mounting global and economic changes such as accelerated population growth, increase affluence combined with rapid urbanization, the expansion of businesses, the depletion of aquifers, and water pollution pull us closer to the loss of our bodily and our earthly essence.
Access to water with a simple flick of the wrist, enables us to take for granted what is a life preserving luxury, one many are already not afforded. Lets pair our need with what we use. On average a person needs about 13 gallons of water per day. The estimated US household uses 245 gallons per day. What could possibly require so much water?
If I decide I want that relaxing bath I will use about 36 gallons of water. If instead, I take a five-minute shower I will use about 25-35 gallons. Should I decide to brush my teeth and leave the water running I will use another 2 gallons. If you let the water run as you shave another 20 gallons flows away. Flushing the toilet takes another 5-7 gallons. In my quiet and contemplating dishwashing reverie I use about 20-30 gallons of water. One large load of laundry will also use another 40 gallons. This is just the use of one person, imagine your block, your city, your state, your continent. How long can it last?
The first part in waking from a nightmare is realizing that you are no longer in it. The first part of my water loss realization made me aware of what I was doing, and that I did not need to do it. No need to feel guilty about enjoying the peacefulness and serenity brought about by water. If all the water facts written about have yet to settle, let one idea idle to the surface. We live on a planet comprised mostly of water. We ourselves are about ¾ water. Would it seem unnatural then, that we should seek it out and that it be the center of our life source? The sustainability of life is dependent on water. Knowing this let’s begin a more educated look at how we can preserve it.
Change can only be summoned through understanding and awareness. I am conscious of the fact that I let the water run in the shower, way before I ever set food in the tub. I am aware that I allow the water to run continuously as I brush my teeth. I watch the water in the kitchen run, as I wipe off the counters. As I make these mistakes, I begin to recognize them.
Everything does not have to happen at once, change is gradual. There are simple ways in which each one of us can help everyday. For some people the change may be radical, but the majority will find it easier to integrate slowly. An easy way to reduce the amount of water consumed is to actually turn the water off while not using it (brushing teeth, shaving). Changing the showerheads and faucets to low-flow ones will decrease the water used by about 40%. When washing dishes using one side to actually let dishes soak, and rinse on the other side, not letting the water run continuously. Using efficiency models for washing machines and dishwashers will reduce the amount of water used to about half. Filling the machines to capacity every time will also cut down on the amount of water used. Invest in a low-flow model for your toilet .A quick Google search will retrieve countless websites designed to educate about the many ways in which we can conserve water.
We are the lucky ones because we have access to what many may think is a limitless supply of water. It is far from limitless, but it runs clean and clear. Americans uses more water than any other nation in the world. Currently there are 1.1 billion people without access to safe drinking water. We don’t risk severe illnesses when we turn on our tap water. We choose to buy bottled water because we can. Surface water has become rampantly polluted by industrial waste, bacteria, domestic sewage, pesticides, mercury, and garbage. Ground water has been so highly abused there is no way for it to replace itself soon enough. Wells are being dug deep and fast, and still the need and consumption far outmatches what the earth is able to regenerate. Countries whose resources are abundant have begun to invest in desalination, an expensive process by which the salt is removed from saltwater,
Analysts predict that the future is swaying in such a way that water may become more coveted than oil. Water in its essence, is life. It nourishes, enriches, soothes, cleans, and is the foundation of all life forms and civilizations. To watch it drip away without a care in torrents of shower, and dishwater is like tearing holes into the fiber of our being. Seek its beauty and its calm in the oceans and rivers not in your leaky faucet. Perhaps Jacques Cousteau left us with the best inclination about how vital our water is by stating: “We forget that the water cycle and life cycle are one”.