As we discussed a few weeks back in How to Make a Big Impact: Energy, with all the restraints put on people, money, time, access, the secret to making change may be to focus on the big stuff. So, if you only invested in one green initiative this year, what should it be? What actions make the biggest impact?
We started with energy, and in this installment, we tackle the issue of water. An object of abundance for some and a much needed, rare commodity for others, water is a huge part of our lives. Unlike energy, water is literally a necessary part of our daily survival.
It Does a Body Good
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “Water is of major importance to all living things; in some organisms, up to 90 percent of their body weight comes from water. Up to 60 percent of the human body is water, the brain is composed of 70 percent water, and the lungs are nearly 90 percent water. About 83 percent of our blood is water, which helps digest our food, transport waste, and control body temperature. Each day humans must replace 2.4 liters of water, some through drinking and the rest taken by the body from the foods eaten.”
With such an important need comes a large demand. A large portion of the world’s population does not have access to healthy, safe water. This lack of access for some makes water conservation and protection a priority for all.
Penn State professor Bill Sharpe compares the importance of water conservation to that of global warming or carbon offsets. Just as we look at our carbon footprint, we should also look at our water footprint. Not only does the amount of water used need to be considered but also the quality of what we return to our water supply in the way of pollution and chemical run-off.
“There are two kinds of water use: consumptive and nonconsumptive,” Sharp says. “Consumptive is when used water evaporates into the atmosphere, which reduces the quantity. Non-consumptive use is when water is returned to rivers, streams or aquifers as treated water, but it changes the quality.”