1% Water

glass of waterThe Earth is the only planet known to contain an abundance of water and support life. Water (H2O), the combination of hydrogen and oxygen atoms, is an essential element for all living organisms.

Plants, for instance, wilt when the rate at which their roots absorb water is lower than the rate of transpiration from their leaves. If we forget to water our houseplants, the soil will get dry and will eventually reach its wilting point (insufficient water for the plant to replace the water that is being lost to transpiration). If you water your plant on time, the plant will probably recover, but if you don’t, your plant will die.

About 70% of our body is water and all human activities revolve around water: we drink it, we use it for personal and general hygiene, we grow and cook our food with it… In addition to domestic and agricultural water consumption, the industrial sector needs water to complete most of its manufacturing processes.

Dehydration is the shortage of water in the body. Fatigue, energy loss, dry skin, premature aging, headaches, thirst, overheating, constipation, dizziness, urinary infections, thin dull hair, higher LDL cholesterol levels, and low blood pressure are some of the symptoms caused by dehydration, which can ultimately lead to shock and death.

In other words, we can’t live without water!

Unfortunately, only 1% of the world’s H2O is accessible, fresh and suitable for human consumption and it is becoming scarce. Annual evaporation levels have increased over the past few decades due to the continuous rise of the world’s average temperatures (global worming). The world’s population and the rate at which humans consume fresh water has accelerated over the past century. Moreover, human activities, such as agriculture, industry and sewage treatment, constantly pollute rivers and streams.

It is crucial that we understand how indispensable water is to all life and learn how to protect this precious resource!

Do we consume water responsibly? Do we realize how essential and precious this resource is? Are we water smart? Little actions can make a big difference, especially when united and combined. For instance, by placing a recycled bottle full of water in a toilet’s water tank or by reducing your meat consumption, you can save thousands of gallons of water per year.

Learn more about this essential and finite resource and find out how you can save some water by making some small changes to your lifestyle.

Fresh Water, Iguazu Falls

The Blue Planet

The Earth is also known as ‘the blue planet’ because 71% of its surface is Salt Water, Oceanscovered in water. The oceans hold about 97% of the world’s water. On average, saltwater has a salinity of 3.5% (35 grams -1.2oz- of salt per liter). Drinking this water to stay hydrated is actually counterproductive. Our body would need larger amounts of water just to eliminate the salt. On the other hand, desalinization, the process of removing salt from water to make saltwater drinkable, is very expensive and wasteful.

Fresh Water, Melting SnowThe other 3% of the Earth’s water is fresh, but approximately 2% is locked in the form of ice (icebergs, glaciers and lake ice that forms from freshwater or snow). Frozen water from glaciers and icecaps melts during the warm seasons and rebuilds during the winter in a balanced cycle. However, over the last few decades, ice and snow have been melting into the oceans faster than it can replenish.

So, only 1% of the world’s H2O is accessible, fresh and suitable for human consumption. Rivers and lakes are our main water supply and they constitute only 0.007% of the total water. Moreover, Fresh Water Cycle, Iciclethese aqua systems are constantly threatened by contamination and systematic devastation.

Renewable but Finite

Water is a renewable finite resource that comes to the earth in the form of rain and re-stocks our supplies. Any renewable resource, however, can be exhausted and depleted if is not treated and consumed in a sustainable way. On top of that, water demand keeps growing: there are more than 7 billion people and 60 billion farm animals in the world in constant need of water.


The question is: What in the world can we do about it? Small individual actions are the best way to help. We can start conserving water at home by using it responsibly and encouraging others to do the same. We can also reduce our meat and dairy consumption or ultimately switch to a plant-based or vegan diet; becoming a primary consumer (eating herbivore animals makes us secondary consumers) can save thousands of gallons of water per year.

Let’s Start from Home!

A good starting point is your water bill. How many gallons of fresh water are used in your household every month? This numbers can be surprising, but it is good to be aware of how much water you are consuming at home. Every gallon matters. One person can live off of one gallon of water for a few days. So, if we can save a gallon, we are making a difference.

US Water Usage

Source: AWWARF (Aquacraft, Inc. & American Water Work Association Research).

Challenge you and your housemates and try to guess how many gallons are used per month in your household. Then take a look at your past water bills and find out how much water you have consumed in the last few months. You will probably be surprised! Now, as a team, set a goal for how many gallons of water you want to save next month and discuss what you are going to do to accomplish this goal.

Here are some basic things you can do to get started.

  • Calculate the water consumption of your household by going to http://www.csgnetwork.com/waterusagecalc.html and filling in the blanks. This way, you are all going to have a better idea of where all those gallons of water are going. You are also going to learn how efficient your toilet, shower head, dishwasher and washing machine are.
  • How many gallons of water do you use while taking a shower? When you take a shower remember that all you need is to clean up, so get to work and enjoy the water for a few minutes, but don’t forget that even with a green shower head, every minute you save is gold. The average water faucet uses 2.5 gallons per minute and if you let the minutes pass by, you are wasting a lot of water. Putting an extra clock in your bathroom can help you monitor the amount of time you spend in the shower. You should certainly be able to take a full shower in less than 4 minutes, specially if you have short hair. If you need to do extra things, like shaving or facial masks or scrubs, make sure you turn the water off while you are not using it.

Fresh Water, Hoover Dam

If your average amount of time spent in the shower is 10 minutes and you shower every day, your water consumption is 175 gallons per week or 762.5 gallons per month. Multiply by 3 (people in the house) 2287.5 gallons per month only on ‘shower time’!

Minutes   in the shower

Gallons   of water used












More Water Conservation Tips:

  • brick in the toilet“The brick in the toilet,” an old trick: One of the easiest ways to save clean, fresh water daily is to place a brick or a recycled water bottle (filled with water) in your toilet’s water tank (the brick might start disintegrating over time, so a glass of plastic bottle is a much better choice). This way, every time you flush the toilet, you will save water! In this picture, an 800 milliliters glass water bottle -filled with water-  is used, which means that 800 milliliters of water are saved in every flush. Isn’t that awesome? Implement this tip today, and start saving many gallons of water per week!
  • Check your irrigation system for broken drippers or sprinkler heads and cracked pipes or hoses. Walking through your yard at watering time once a week to monitor every dripper or sprinkler head is a great way to detect any over (or under) watered areas. Wet areas that are not close to a dripper or sprinkler head, usually indicate an irrigation problem. In order to find the leak, carefully dig the hose out at watering time and be prepared to get splashed in the face.  Irrigation parts are usually economical and cracks or broken heads are fairly easy to repair. If you are not the “do it yourself” type, call an irrigation specialist or landscaper for help. For more information, you can visit H2OUSE.org: water meter page. Finally, turn off your irrigation system on rainy days.
  • If you have a reverse osmosis (RO)Reuse RO waste water system, you should know that this water filtration method uses one-to-four gallons of water for every gallon of pure water produced. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, RO discharge water has the same sanitary qualities as the potable source water for the RO filter. The only difference is that the discharge water will have slightly elevated concentrations of minerals and water treatment chemicals. As long as the sanitary conditions are maintained during storage and transfer, the water can be used the same as potable water. So, instead of letting that discharge water go down the drain, you can redirect it to a bucket or container and use it! Place a container under your sink, deviate the RO drainage hose to the container, and finally, plug the hole that it was previously hooked up to the drain. You can use that water for your plants, cleaning, washing your car, or even bathing your pets!
  • Take your house plants outside while it rains. It is a great way of saving some water while allowing your plants to get some fresh air and a revitalizing shower. They will love it!
  • If you have one, use the dishwasher instead of manually washing your dishes. In most cases, it helps to conserve water. Also, a green way of manually washing dishes is to fill up the kitchen sink half way with hot water and scrub all your plates with biodegradable soap (or Multi-UCES), and once they are all soaped up, open the water to rinse them and let them air dry.
  • Recycle grey water (waste-water generated from domestic activities) by using it to water your garden. For example, keep a little bucket or a pitcher next to your kitchen sink to collect the water from washing your vegetables or doing dishes and reuse it to water your house plants.
  • Installing a WaterSense or dual flash toilet can reduce water use by 20%. Also, having a bathroom trash can for paper also helps reducing the amount of times you will need to flash the toilet per day. Finally, if you want to go one step further, let it mellow if it is yellow!
  • Close the faucet while you shave and brush your teeth.
  • Professional car washes are believed to use much less water than the average car wash at home (45 gallons versus 80-100 gallons). Take your car to the car wash as little as possible and maintain your car cleanliness with sporadical “cat car washes” at home. Your car will be clean and you will save many gallons of water!
  • Try to wear your t-shirts and jeans a few more times in between washes. They will last longer and you will use less water.

One meatless day per week

tofurky-avocado vegan veggie wrapReducing our meat consumption even by 10% is another great way of conserving our water resources. The amount of water that is needed for the production of meat is much higher than the amount water used for the production of grains and vegetables. Producing feed crops for livestock, slaughtering and the processing of meat and other dairy products requires large quantities of water.

According to the International World Water Day 2012, coordinated by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, people consume an average of 2.5 liters of water per day. It takes 3000 liters of water to produce enough food to satisfy a person’s daily needs, 1500 liters of water to produce one kilogram of grains, and 15000 liters (ten times more) to produce one kilogram of meat.

“About 90 million metric tons of GM corn grains are produced worldwide. Given that 70% of total corn grain production are used for livestock feed, then at least 65 million metric tons of GM corn grains are used in livestock diets annually. In the case of soybean, about 70 million metric tons of soybean meal derived from GM soybean are fed to livestock per annum,” ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications).

Wprld's Water Consumption
Source: Worldometers, real time world statistics.

“We now produce food in unprecedented quantities. Indeed, many experts believe we may finally be able to end starvation and malnutrition for good. But the challenge lies in finding ways to feed the world without undercutting the land, ecosystems, and water resources upon which all life ultimately depends.” (National Geographic)

A balanced plant based diet has all the nutrients that our bodies need to be strong and healthy and to keep your cholesterol and fat levels low. The production of vegetables, grains and fruits is sustainable and efficient, and has a much lower impact in the environment than the production of animal foods.  Going meatless once a week is a step in the right direction!

Go to “Green Cuisine” in the Green Straight Up menu bar for meal ideas and recipes!

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