Monday, August 6, 2012

Why You Should Care About Water

The Climate Crusader lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest - but water is still on her mind.

This month at the Green Phone Booth we're taking aim at water. I live in Vancouver, a city that gets more than its fair share of rainfall. When your plants are all drowning in your garden in early spring, it's really easy to take water for granted. Because water is so abundant here, I used to groan inside when I had to write about it. What difference does it make to my friends half a continent away who are experiencing drought if I turn the water off while I'm brushing my teeth?

However, earlier this year I participated in World Water Day on my personal blog, and I learned some surprising statistics about water and food. Here's the bottom line:
  • Much of the food we eat travels a thousand miles or more from the farm to our table.
  • A lot of that food is grown in places that don't get a lot of rainfall. For example, over 90% of all leafy vegetables grown in the US from November to March come from Yuma County, Arizona.
  • 70% of the water we remove from rivers, lakes and aquifers at a global level goes to irrigate food crops.
  • Animal products also require a lot of water, because we must first grow the feed crops for the animals, and then provide them with drinking water as well.
  • 30% of the food we grow goes to waste, which literally means water down the drain.

Dewdrops on my leaves

What this means is that even if you live in a place that sees a lot of rainfall, as I do, your actions can have a direct impact on the water supply someplace else. You don't even have to live in the same state or same country - here in Canada most of our winter veggies come from Arizona, as well.

Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to reduce the amount of water you're consuming through the food you eat:
  • Eat less meat, eggs and dairy and more plants.
  • Grow your own food, and preserve local food in season.
  • Reduce your food waste by planning your meals before you go grocery shopping, and eating leftovers.
The world's population is growing, and the fresh water supply isn't. It's important that we all work together to ensure that we're not wasting this precious resource. This is true whether you live in the desert, or in the middle of a temperate rainforest as I do.

Do you have any other tips for reducing how much water you waste? Please share them!


Nicole said...

Very good points! The importance of water has become abundantly clear here in Southern Ontario this summer. An uncharacteristically mild winter without much snow lowered our water table, and we have been experiencing drought conditions for the whole summer. Farmers have lost crops, which means a huge loss of income, not to mention food.

You never realize how much water you use, until you're in a drought!

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

Great food for thought! (he he) said...

Very good information!! It's very important for us to know the importance of water. There are many parts of the world facing water crisis. It's better to prevent that from happening ..


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