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  • Abeer Kapur

Water Scarcity and What You Can Do

While water scarcity is a very serious global crisis, it is also very much fixable. Major organizations around the world, including UN-Water, are committed to tackling this issue. But does that mean that the rest of us can take it easy? That we have no responsibility? No, definitely not! All the talks about water being scarce, and people suffering globally due to lack of access to water resources, can be distressing and unsettling. Throw in the use of terms like “water equality”, “recycled water”, “desalination” etc. and it can get even more daunting.

The result? A majority of us end up burying our heads in the sand, where we justify our non-action to lack of understanding and lack of awareness. Or perhaps we convince ourselves there’s nothing we can do. Or simply, that the crisis does not exist.

But we need to face facts. Water IS essential for survival. Water IS scarce. People ARE suffering. Clean and safe water WILL run out if we don’t take the necessary actions to prevent it. And everyone’s contribution IS crucial. It’s really not all that tough, once you know what steps you can take at an individual level. So, I’m sharing some tips to save water at home.

Tips to follow at home. Remember, you CAN make a difference:

1. Shorter showers- Take a ‘one song’ shower. Jam to your favourite song while you shower and try to finish before the song ends.

2. Got leftover water from lunch or dinner? Pour it into a pitcher, and when you’ve collected enough, water your plants with it.

3. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.

4. Ditch the bubble baths. The average bath uses 35 to 50 gallons of water, compared to 10-15 gallons, when taking a shower.

5. The next time you dry your clothes, use a clothes line or drying rack instead of a dryer. When you save energy, you save water.

6. Instead of using hosepipes, use a watering can to water your garden.

7. Close to 25% of our indoor water usage comes from doing laundry. You can cut down on that percent by waiting to wash your clothes until you have a full load.

8. Avoid hosing down your cars to clean them. Instead, use buckets.

9. Re-use your cooking liquids. For instance, water used to boil pasta can be re-used to water the plants, after it has cooled down.

10. When giving your pets a fresh bowl of water, use the leftover to water trees and plants around the house.

11. Only order water in a restaurant if you’re actually going to drink it. Or have your server fill it halfway. You can always ask for a refill.

12. Flushing is the biggest water hog in the house. Get a low-flow toilet.

13. When hand washing dishes, plug the sink or get a tub, so that the water does not run continuously.

14. Plant drought-resistant trees and plants. Many trees and plants thrive without irrigation and need very little water to survive. Example Bougainvillea, Sage, Snake plant etc.

15. Use half a bucket of water and brooms/ wipers to clean driveways, steps etc in the house. Hosing them wastes hundreds of gallons of water.

16. Check your pipes and faucets for hidden leaks. Save water, and save on your water bill.

17. Put a layer of mulch around your trees and plants. Mulch slows down the evaporation of moisture and helps to retain it longer.

18. Avoid processed food. A lot of water goes into processing foods. Opt for more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Side result? A healthier body.

19. If you really need a caffeine fix, go for tea instead of coffee. Coffee has one of the highest water footprints per pound. Sorry coffee lovers, to go ‘blue’, you must give up on your ‘black’.

20. The clothes we wear, use huge amounts of water to be made. So, the next time the shopaholic in you wakes up, stop and ask yourself if you really need that new piece of clothing.

21. Producing transportation fuels requires a lot of water. So, carpool and use public transportation, And if doable, throw on those trainers and jog to work.

22. Don’t waste paper. Instead of throwing it out, recycle it.

23. On an average, the water footprint of a vegan or vegetarian is around half that of a meat eater. So all you meat eaters out there- when you’re at a restaurant next, try looking at the vegetarian section of the menu. You might be pleasantly surprised :)

Even if you follow half of these tips diligently in your daily life, you will make a big difference. Here’s to being ‘Water Warriors’!

Save Water. Save lives. Save the planet.

And remember: REDUCE. REUSE. RECYLE.

About the author: Abeer Kapur is an 11 year old writer, animal lover, change maker and proud GenZer. He is passionate about issues of water scarcity, access to clean water, gender equality, education and climate change. He works to raise awareness on these issues via his social media, through organising campaigns and writing.