Water

Reusable Water Bottles & What WWD Is All About

Well, I kinda blew it by not posting anything on World Water Day. But celebrate, I did. I celebrated by not taking a shower, doing the dishes in the most water-conservative way I know how, and really thinking about water.

Though the official water day has passed, here are some photos, facts, issues, and ideas to keep water on your mind, and in your actions.

If you don’t have a reusable water bottle, it’s time to buy one. Do it for WWD, do it for convenience, just do it. Plus then you can use the cool new water-refill stations popping up at airports near you (this one @ SFO)! My favorite reusable is the stainless steel Klean Kanteen. Easy to clean, dishwasher safe, light but durable, and BPA free. BPA (bisphenol A) is a polycarbonate plastic that’s been linked to heart disease, diabetes & liver failure in humans, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Try to steer clear of aluminum knockoffs. aluminum, as opposed to steel, isn’t FDA food-grade safe so these bottles are coated with plastic or epoxy liners (read chemicals) = bad news.

My brother rocks the BPA-free plastic CamelBak. These are great IF you have a dishwasher, but without one, the rubber nozzle fills with spit/bacteria and gets super gross. That happened to mine, but his is fine since he puts the nozzle in the dishwasher regularly. Another high-class glass version is from LifeFactory, who also makes sustainable (glass) baby bottles.

Fun SF find: Global Tap water fountains are showing up around town. Love them and their ‘water is a human right, not a privilege’ slogan!

Now onto WWD, which focuses on the amount of water used in food production. This is one of the reasons I’m a vegetarian. It takes 1500 liters of water to produce 1 kg of wheat, but takes 10 times more to produce 1kg of beef due to the need for water in livestock feed production, slaughtering, and meat processing (UN). It’s pretty crazy when you think about the numbers: 70% of blue (drinkable) water withdrawals at a global level go to crop irrigation, not to human needs (UN). Humans all over the globe suffer from a lack of water, because this water is diverted and prioritized to give us steak. This water should be instead allocated to the 1.5 MILLION children who die yearly from diarrhea caused by severe dehydration (WHO).

Lastly, we’ve all be there. You share an apartment with your loved one or have a date over that you want to continue to find you attractive. Bathroom business (read #2) is not attractive, so you run the sink or the shower while probably also making coughing noises. Well, accomplish this and waste water no longer!  Check out this app alternative (thanks Ame :)

Oh we let it mellow.

3 pees already! (I know I struggled with whether to include a visual...)

If it’s yellow…well you know how that one goes. I don’t know why we are so grossed out with a little pee in the toilet. If you’re drinking enough water it isn’t even that yellow and doesn’t smell and you can vastly reduce your water usage by flushing only when you need to (definitely flush #2 and after 5 pees or so- figure out what you can get away with without a clog!)

If you live in an apartment/house/condo that was built before 1992 chances are you have a toilet that uses 3.5 -5 GALLONS of water in each flush! Each person flushes the toilet an average of 7 times a day (thanks google, but count yourself! I go all the time because I’m constantly drinking water), which means you’re consuming 25-35 GALLONS of water a day just in toilet flushing! Luckily in 1992 the U.S. got serious with the Energy Policy & Conservation Act made it mandatory for all toilets to be 1.6 Gallon flushers. Most of the high-efficiency toilets (HETs) are 1.28 gallon flushers now & if you search really hard you can find ones that only use 1 gallon. But here’s the thing, if you’re flushing 7 times a day even in the most efficient toilet you’re still using 7 gallons of water simply for pee; what a ridiculous waste! Just to give you a comparative figure, the average person in a developing country uses 2.6 gallons a day for EVERYTHING (cooking, washing, drinking, & sanitation if they have it).

I hope you join me in the yellow revolution!

A few other quick water saving tips:

  • Taking shorter showers. I now only wash my hair twice a week (and I have BEAUTIFUL healthy hair for the first time ever) so my showers are super short: in, wet, lathered, rinse.
  • Turn off the water while you’re shaving your legs. You won’t freeze to death and you’ll get used to it quickly.
  • When you’re doing the dishes (if you don’t have a dishwasher- dishwashers are more water efficient!) soap them all up while the water is turned off and then rinse. You won’t run the water as much and the continuous flow means it takes less energy than if you start/stop

Making flying a little less damaging

SFO reusable water filling station

For the past year, I lived in New York while I finished up grad school and my boyfriend lived in San Francisco. I like my boyfriend and he’s pretty fun to hang out with so we saw each other about every other week. In October & November due to missing him and visiting with friends, I flew across the country and back 5 times. I tried to release my carbon emissions-guilt by reminding myself that we don’t have a car or use fuel in any other way (we walk or bike) so my total emissions footprint isn’t completely disgusting. There are a few other things I’d do, to help ease my conscience and the stress I was putting on the planet.

Garbage & waste: Airlines LOVE to give you 10 little plastic or styrofoam cups of water/juice/soda/tea. Each of those snackboxes or premade meals (in addition to being just super gross) comes in enough cellophane to wrap 30 christmas presents. To keep things from going bad they basically wrap each cube of cheese or lettuce leaf. So, I bring my own food in my reusable snack bag or reusable containers. In addition to saving me the cash I’d spend on lousy airport food, I know my waste is minimized. I also ALWAYS bring a reusable water bottle (empty of course through the security line!) and fill it at the water fountain before boarding. You can also ask the crew to refill this. SFO and BOS have also recently set up refillable water stations to make this even easier for passengers! Sustainable planet, here we come!

1700 plastic bottles saved!

I also bring a reusable lightweight mug (try this) to keep my nemesis (Styrofoam) out of the ocean and landfills. If you are desperate for a soda ask for the whole can and bring it home with you to recycle or ask the stewardess if they have onboard recycling. You definitely don’t need that dinky logo-ed out napkin either so safe a tree limb and say no to that one.

Remember, every little action counts!

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