We bathe in it. We wash our clothes in it. We wash our dishes in it. We drink it to cleanse our bodies.
We swim in it for enjoyment. We sit by it listening to the power of the wave’s crash against the shore. We look on in awe of the way it can shape a rock. We freeze it to add a coolness to our drinks. We sit in the steam it produces to rejuvenate ourselves.
There is nothing quite like sinking into a hot bubble bath at the end of a long draining day. The steam rising from the water and filling my nostrils with hot, moist air. I take a deep cleansing breath as I lower myself slowly in the bubbles. “Ahhhhhhh” is the only thought that runs through my mind as the water envelopes me in a warm embrace. I sometimes take a book with me. Other times I will light a candle and turn out the lights. And yet other times, I will try hard to block out the sounds of my teens coming from on the other side of the door.
What surprises me is the way my mind seems to quiet itself when I am near water. I love to camp in the summer as often as possible. My most favorite camping activity is to get up early, make a cup of coffee and wander down to the lake. I sit quietly, breathing in the cool morning air as I look out over the still lake. And yet again, I find my mind quieting itself. Which is weird for me. I am used to a million different thoughts coming at me, bouncing around in my head, jostling each other for attention. It doesn’t seem to matter the type either—a roaring river, crashing waves of the ocean, gentle lapping of the lake, soothing bath or a hot steamy shower—put me near water and all this ceases.
In many parts of the world, we take it for granted. I know when I turn the tap, the water will be there. There have been times I have missed a notification that the supply will be turned off for whatever reason and I have panicked slightly. Where is the water!? Why is there none flowing from this tap? I know it is only for a short period but I still think of all the things I need that water for in that exact moment.
Facts and figures on the UN Water website state that 85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet. 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. 6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases. That is a lot of people that that cannot turn on a tap. They don’t view water as a luxury to soak in or enjoy the mind cleansing effects it has on me. They can’t. It is just not available to them in this capacity. It is not available to them at all.
Having to find a safe water source is something I have never experienced. I have never had to walk farther than the kitchen or bathroom to gain access to it. I have never had to worry about whether it was safe to fill a glass to refresh myself with on a hot summer day. I have never had to worry about the supply the water I take for granted to not be there. The most energy I have ever had to exert in obtaining water is a walk to the tap in the campground to fill a bucket rather than use the trailer water to wash dishes.
Camping is the closest I have ever come to rationing my water use. I have a gauge in the trailer that I can monitor how full the tank is. We don’t normally have a shower in the trailer when we are camping for the weekend only. There is no need to shower—we jump in the lake, it is right there. I also pack extra water, purchased at the grocery store for drinking. Not because the water in the trailer is unsafe, but because the tank only holds so much and that is used for cooking or brushing our teeth.
As I write this out, I am overwhelmed at the times I have wasted water, stood in the shower a little longer than necessary, ran the tap an extra minute to ensure it really is cold, watched it go down the drain as I waited for it to get hot to wash dishes. So much waste.
And as I read some of the information available on the website depicting pictures of those without water, I realize I can do my part to help. With so many websites and other sources of information offered, it is easy to find ways to do my part.
Although it may not seem like much, the little things I can do will make a difference:
1. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or washing your hands. You can also purchase waterless soap (this is not hand sanitizer).
2. Fix your leaks that you notice. Also install aerators on your kitchen faucet to slow down the flow. You can also replace your flush mechanism in your toilet to a dual-flush.
3. Shrink your lawn—by this I mean have less grass. There are a lot of decorative rocks on the market today to beautify your yard with.
4. Don’t run the dishwasher or washing machine until they’re full.
5. Install a rain barrel to water outdoor plants with.
6. Flush with less. I remember the rule out at the cabin; if it’s yellow let it mellow. Same rule can be applied at home as well.
7. Cut your showers short or use a shower bucket. No one likes to step into a cold shower, so we all let it run a bit before jumping in. Instead of letting that water go down the drain, catch it with a bucket! You can then use this water to give your plants a drink.
8. And while you’re in the shower getting all clean, as you loofa your body clean or shampoo your hair, turn that tap off.
As I look over this condensed list, I see just how simple it is to save water here and there in my everyday life.
I would be lying if I said I will not ever take another bath or run the tap for cold water but I will be more aware of waste. I do however vow to more respectful when I am using water. I know one thing for sure, the next time I fill up that tub for a hot soak, I will be much more conscience of just how full I really need it.
I have spent the last 40 plus years having this valuable resource at my fingertips. I hate to think of it not being there for my next 40.
More water saving tips:
Author: Debbi Serafinchon
Editor: Katarina Tavčar