World Water Day

People need 50 litres of clean water per day for hygiene and consumption, according to the United Nations. Many people in developing nations like sub-Saharan Africa get less than 20 litres per day.

That’s equivalent to about two toilet flushes.

Or 1/3 of water used per shower.

Or 1/75 of the water in a hot tub.

Canadians use an average of 326 litres per day. That’s 6.5 times the amount the UN says we need.

Yes, we live differently than those in developing areas. We have different technologies and different standards.

Well, many of us do at least. While Winnipeg gets its water from Shoal Lake, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation has been under a boil-water advisory since December 2000.

Canada is rated quite poorly compared to other countries and their water use. In Canada, we use nine times more water than people in Denmark.

So how about this: take my water day challenge. Can you live off 50 litres for a day?

This probably means you’re going to defer your water use to another day, like showering or doing laundry tomorrow instead of today.

But try it out.

Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth.

If it’s yellow, actually leave it mellow.

Is today a shower day? Have a pits and privates power shower.

Don’t put that half-full dishwasher through — relax your mind and do some hand washing.

Record your water use on a spreadsheet, or try an online calculator like this one from Grace Communications Foundation, and let me know how it goes.

Then try recording your water consumption for a week. You may be using water in excess for silly reasons, and recording it will help you find those reasons.

I did a water audit for a week last year, and then challenged myself to use 50 litres on World Water Day, and if I remember correctly, I used just over 50 litres.

When you try and live an environmentally friendly life, you can feel defeated. It’s hard to avoid excessive plastic wrap or find the exact bin required for recycling. But with water — it’s all on you. You have to have shorter showers. You have to be mindful of how often you turn the water on when rinsing dishes. You have to drink the last drop of water in your glass, rather than pouring it down the drain.

It’s interesting that we’re at the point where water is a luxury, with our long showers and hot tubs and pools, whereas in other areas, it’s a need that’s not being met.

*Update: I got by with about 83 litres on World Water Day.

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