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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, April 20, 2024

Conservation required for world's water

Here in the United States, the average American consumes 80 to 100 gallons of water a day, based on data from the United States Geological Survey. The largest portion of which is used to flush toilets and take showers and baths. But according to, more than one in six people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water.

While we sit on porcelain thrones and saturate ourselves under fountains of water, one in six people do not have enough clean water to drink and prepare their food.

I feel guilty right now. Guilty that I have a flushable toilet to sit on, guilty that I can take a hot shower every morning, guilty that I have a dishwasher, and guilty that I don't have to walk two miles everyday to haul enough clean water to prevent dehydration.

It doesn't seem right that while I soak in a bubble bath, children are dying from water-related diseases. Peter H. Gleick at the Pacific Institute writes that as many as 135 million people will die from preventable water-related diseases by the year 2020.

It's the preventable that we should focus on. There is something we can do. There are numerous ways in which we can reduce our water consumption, and just because what we don't use doesn't get shipped to those who need it the most doesn't mean our efforts are worthless.

Sophie Uliano, author of ""Gorgeously Green"" and ""The Gorgeously Green Diet,"" suggests using the water that normally runs down the drain as you wait for the shower to warm up. Keep a gallon milk jug just next to your shower and use the water for houseplants, to make coffee or boil noodles.

As previously mentioned, toilets account for the majority of our water consumption. So, flush less. If you live alone, have your own bathroom or are extremely close with your roommates, consider flushing only when necessary. If you just tinkled, ask yourself if a flush is essential.

I know we're talking about water here, but what you buy at the grocery store has a big impact on your water consumption too. Water is needed to produce everything from soda to Hamburger Helper. By purchasing foods in their natural forms (i.e. fresh potatoes versus boxed potatoes) you will not only decrease your water consumption but also reduce your carbon footprint. An enormous amount of energy goes into processing those potatoes, constructing the box and shipping the final processed non-food product to the grocery store.

Turning off the faucet while you wash your hands or brush your teeth can also make a big difference. Even if you only save a cup of water every time you wash your hands, just think about how many times a day you perform that action, or others similar to it. Multiply that by 365 days in a year and you'll begin to see how little painless changes in your daily routine can help reduce your water consumption.

Now that you've begun to see how easy it is to conserve water, I want to introduce you to the ""camping shower."" Back in the days before showers were standard at campgrounds, and when campground water heaters barely warmed enough water to bathe a baby, my sisters and I developed a shower system to conserve the precious hot water. We would turn the shower on, get wet and then soap up with the shower off. We would only turn the water on again to rinse off.

Amazingly, I discovered while abroad in France, that the French exclusively take what I always thought of as ""camping showers,"" because water is expensive in Europe and the French are extremely conscious about their water usage. The ""camping shower"" concept is simple: reduce the amount of time the water is running. So turn off the shower when you are not getting wet or rinsing. Do not stand under the water, letting it flow over your body and through your hair for extended amounts of time.

The water supply might seem plentiful in this country, especially living in the Midwest, but water is a finite resource. All the water that exists, or ever existed, or ever will exist, is here on Earth right now. It's crucial we remember that water is a luxury in many parts of the world. It's frankly selfish to let water just flow down the drain. Having to turn off the faucet while you lather your shampoo is a small sacrifice to make, especially when you consider that some people must walk miles everyday to find and then haul safe drinking water.

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Reducing your water consumption makes a strong political statement. By making a commitment to conserve water you are setting an example for your friends, family and co-workers by helping raise awareness about the importance of a clean and safe water supply for everyone. Access to clean water should be regarded as a fundamental human right. It's crucial that we all do our part to ensure that no person goes without clean and safe water.

Kathy Dittrich is a senior majoring in English and French. We welcome all feedback. Please send responses to


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