The United Nations marks March 22nd as World Water Day, a day to celebrate this enormously precious resource and recognize the continuing barriers many communities face in achieving water security. Recent U.N. statistics show that nearly 780 million people don’t have access to safe drinking water and nearly 2.5 billion lack access to proper sanitation. That’s a little “difficult to swallow” considering our home, planet Earth, has a surface that is more than 2/3rds water (albeit, not freshwater – but modern technologies make desalination relatively inexpensive).
As water pertains to food, nearly 70% of all freshwater is used for irrigation and agricultural purposes, 20% for industry and manufacturing, leaving the remaining 10% for drinking, sanitation, and other purposes. In more simple terms, to produce the daily caloric requirements for each human– it takes almost 1,300 gallons whereas our daily drinking requirement is something more like 1 gallon. So, what we eat has an enormous impact on the amount of freshwater that is consumed compared to actually drinking the water. For example, 1 pound of grain-fed beef takes 2,000 gallons of water; where a similar nutritional profile (proteins, fats, etc.) grown out of plant matter takes about 800 gallons of water. That’s a crazy savings! I often hear that people say that “I’m just one person, what difference can I make?” When it comes to water, your difference is a big one! Now, we’re not asking you to give up your favorite burger joint – but what if you had lentils one night instead of ground beef?
That’s why when Oxfam created The GROW Method, they saw that choosing to eat a little less meat made a huge impact on agriculture, climate change, and the consumption of freshwater! This World Water Day, be a part of a growing movement. Maybe you were really looking forward to that chicken alfredo for dinner but don't worry - there are many other ways that you can reduce your water “footprint”. You can install a low-flow shower head, turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth, wear that shirt twice (assuming it doesn’t have an odor – or if it does and you’re looking to avoid people), or have a plant-based meal. You might already do some of these things and for that, we give our thanks.
Today, raise a glass (of water, of course) to water: a beautiful molecule of 1 hydrogen atom and 2 oxygen atoms which without, life, as we know it, would not be possible.
And with a quenched palete, raise your voice for justice: clean, safe water for all.