Chances are good that you’ve heard that California is in the midst of a severe four-year drought. If you don’t live here you might not think that has anything to do with you. But if you live in the U.S., there is a good chance you’ve eaten some of the food grown here—or at least used to be grown here. And if you live elsewhere around the planet you likely know that fresh drinkable water is becoming more precious everywhere humans live. But rather than scare ourselves to death about the dwindling supply, I instead want to remind myself of this precious resource that deserves our protection and appreciation. When we love something, when we value something, it is always easier to do whatever it takes to insure its continuation. So this week’s post is my tribute to water.
Here are the top nine ways I celebrate water:
#1 Beauty. I live in the desert of Southern California and I am fortunate to be able to escape the 100+ degree temperatures that persist during the summer. Because we rightsized our lives several years ago, we are able to spend a month in the mountains and then a month at the beach. This August we’ve rented a home a block from the beach and every morning and evening we get to enjoy the sight and experience of Silver Strand Beach in Oxnard, CA. While obviously ocean water is not drinkable, witnessing the expanse and beauty of a magnificent body of water surely rejuvenates the soul. But let’s not stop there. Water creates beauty in our world in hundreds of ways. Rivers, lakes, flowers, and trees—the list goes on and on. I can’t even imagine (nor do I want to!) a world without the beauty that water brings.
#2 Lifestyle comforts. The vast majority of the people in the U.S. rises each morning and is able to go to the tap and drink a glass of water, fix coffee or tea, and go about their day. What is even more under-appreciated is the ability to go to the bathroom and use a flush toilet. And yet, in the 1950s one-fourth of the U.S. population was without such a feature. Let’s never forget the incredible gift of being able to drink fresh water or take a hot shower with plenty of water to rinse our hair.
#3 Food. Another value that is easy to overlook is the fact that most of us have food readily available—and all of it takes water. This morning Thom (my husband) made me a smoothie with an incredibly fresh combination of blueberries, apple, avocados, power greens and more. All the fruits and vegetables he uses require water to grow. And even if we remember to be grateful for the water that grows all the plants, it’s extremely easy to forget the water that is necessary for all our other food like nuts, grains and yes, meat. If we consume those things and forget the chain of water required in them, we miss the extraordinary contribution water provides.
A short list of food and water facts:
1 lb of beef =1,799 gallons of water
1 lb of chicken = 468 gallons of water
1 gallon of milk = 880 gallons of water
1 gallon of coffee = 880 gallons of water
1 loaf of bread = 240 gallons of water
1 soda pop =46 gallons of water
1 beer = 47 gallons of water
1 chocolate bar = 455 gallons of water (Yikes!)
1 apple = 17.5 gallons of water
#4 Our bodies require it. Chances are good we all know that we need water to live. But lets never forget the fact that 2/3rds of our body is made up of water, that 90% of our brain is water, and that we can only live about five days without an adequate supply.
#5 Energy. I don’t know about you but I like turning lights on when it gets dark and am fanatical about using my computer when I want or need to use it. An air conditioner and a refrigerator are also quite nice. But what we seldom consider is how much water it takes to “fuel” all the hundreds of things I use energy for every single day. Until I researched this article I didn’t know that some 580 billion cubic meters of freshwater are used for energy production every year around the world. In other words, producing energy uses in some cases up to 44% of the world’s total water usage in a year, second only to agriculture. In California 22% of our water goes to make our electricity.
Obviously certain types of energy production use more water than others. Thermoelectric and nuclear uses the most, with coal and other fossil fuels close behind. And while natural gas is less intensive, the means to extract it, like fracking, not only uses lots of water but is fundamentally dangerous. Solar and wind energy use the least and are processes we should all support. Although plans to cut back on water usage in the energy field are being planned, we should never take it for granted. Just know that every time we turn on a light switch, we are once again using precious water.
#6 Cleaning. Like to wear clean clothes? Like to eat off clean dishes. Yep. What we often think of daily chores is actually a luxury in certain parts of the world. Remember those photos of the “good old days” where women had to take the laundry down to the creek and rub it against rocks to get clean? Of course, if there was no creek you just had to wear what you owned. While the advantages of the 21st century are many, let’s never take those things for granted.
#7 Everything we buy and own. Another thing we seldom consider is that it takes water to make just about everything we own. Our house, our furniture, our
cars and everything we use to make our life go smoothly require water. According to a matrix done by Carnegie-Mellon, it is estimated that home goods and home furnishings take 17 gallons of water for every $1 spent. Electronics take 5 gallons for every $1 spent. Paper products take 7 gallons for every $1 spent. The average amount of water necessary to make a car is 32,000 gallons! It takes over 1,800 gallons of water just to grow the cotton for one pair of jeans. What about all the rest of our clothes? If any of us actually took the time to figure out the amount of water we use just to live a normal day we would be amazed. Remembering to be grateful is a good place to start.
#8 Water is our history and our future. Civilizations as we know them have always existed on water. Because water is so very necessary to our lives it makes sense that every major civilization began and thrived only when it was close to major water sources. Think of the Nile in Egypt and how that amazing civilization was only possible due to the access of a powerful water source. Like history? —thank water.
#9 It’s FUN! Last but not least is the fact that water makes our lives more fun and rewarding in hundreds of ways. I’m certainly enjoying my month here by the beach but when I thought about it, the fun and enjoyment I get from water touches every area of my life. I came across this cute video by Brad Paisley that helps me remember that water can just be fun!
Water is precious and more vital than we usually think about on a regular basis. But I’m convinced that we will only do what it takes to care for it when we learn to fully appreciate how important it is to our lives and our planet. Perhaps the SMART thing to do is to remember that daily, and to do our best to protect it for ourselves and generations to come.
Okay, so what is at least ONE thing you appreciate about water right now? Please share in the comments below!