I often wonder what the biggest benefit that civilization and development have brought into my home is. PC??? TV??? Internet??? Electricity??? All these make life better, easier, more diverse. Or maybe they just keep me at home longer? Make me pay more attention to social media than to family, know more about what a reputable politician has said rather than what is really going on with my child? And these are not the most important things in life, although most of my free time revolves around them. Can I do without them, I ask myself? No, I cannot. I am slave to the habits, no matter how good or bad they are.
But do I really need all these things? There is one thing I really need, without which my life would greatly change, without which the quality of my life would be reduced and without which serious consequences for my health are possible. It is the water, the water with which I bathe, maintain personal hygiene, keep my home clean, clean the food I eat, clean the toilet and with the help of which I remove much of the hazardous waste that is produced in my home. The water that springs from my tap in unlimited quantities. Or maybe I'm wrong about this?
Yes, I am wrong, because the water does not spring from my wall. Before it gets into my tap someone has checked it, treated it, put it in the water supply system, and built the necessary infrastructure including all those pump stations that pump the water so that it can run out from my wall and the tap. I am also wrong about it being infinite. We are just privileged to be among the few who have access to clean and quality water that we can use for drinking. Only a few generations ago people filled water at public taps and brought it home on foot, in their hands. How much water will I bring today? Ten liters, maybe twenty. And I will do the trip twice.
Today, at home, we will consume a total of 40 liters. With our modern lifestyle, a person consumes about 150 liters of water a day. Most of it is used for maintaining hygiene. The toilet tank alone, for example, spends 1/3 of the total water consumption in a home. For drinking we actually use very small quantities. I read somewhere that I should drink about 2 liters of water a day. I don't know if coffee, beer, juice count... Anyways, those are small quantities. I know, I know, tap water is bad for me, I read online. I will buy bottled water. Many point out and try to prove that there is something in the tap water. And there is, minerals that our body cannot do without. Does the label on the bottle of water I buy say pure distilled water? Or it says pure spring water? And what is Rashche? Is it not a clean spring? Still, time and again I decide to drink water transported over 100 km. Or if my living standard allows, water transported several thousands of kilometers. It sounds so cool when I say “Garson, bring me another ............ (one of those posh foreign brands that roll so beautifully over your tongue when you pronounce them).
Otherwise, I am ecologically aware. It is not a big thing that in order to bring that water on the table in the bar where I am the cool guy, several liters of fossil fuel were spent and significant amounts of carbon dioxide were emitted into the atmosphere. It would be shameful to order water in a jug. People on the nearby tables would raise an eyebrow and the owner would not be able to charge for it. But, If they don't serve tap water there, somewhere else they might, and if the need be, even charge for it... I think we need to understand that water is energy, regardless of whether someone is transporting it a few thousand kilometers to get it here or pumping it with pumps that run on electricity to bring it into my home. Hence, we need to treat it accordingly.
But, let me go back to the second mistake. Water is not infinite. Even water coming out of my tap is not infinite. It's just very cheap, so I treat it as if it was. I often say to the best wife in the world (no, this is not the wife of Ephraim Kishon, I just realized that mine is better): “Wife, let the tap run, I'm thirsty." After reading my favorite website, I go and have a glass of water. Cold fresh running water, a wonderful feeling. The neighbor on the seventh floor alarms that water is not coming to his apartment, but why the hell did he buy an apartment on the seventh floor... I developed this attitude in the first grade of school when I was taught that my home country is rich in everything, woods, waters, fertile soils, ores, minerals… Why should I save when we are rich?
Unfortunately, I may have been misinformed. The water running from my tap, clean, safe, fresh, is a resource that is slowly disappearing. Why? Well, water is in constant motion. We studied this as the water cycle. Water evaporates, water vapor condenses in the upper cold layers of the atmosphere and comes down as rain. Falls on the ground, sinks into it, reaches the springs, rivers, oceans (and my tap) and evaporates again. Evaporation is the miracle that purifies water, there is no salt water vapor. However, we pollute the atmosphere as well (among other things) and when on its way water is in contact with everything that we have released in the air, consciously or unconsciously. So what if water picks up something in the air, soil and other geological layers purify it. Also, water has the property of being "a universal solvent". On its way to the underground it will dissolve everything that can be dissolved, especially those much-needed minerals, and everything else that we have put into the soil, thrown away, got rid of. Additionally, every result of human activities that in any way leaks in the ground will probably reach the water. And all other pollution as well, of natural or man-made sources. The final result - we have less and less clean fresh water.
Here is where all of a sudden climate change comes in. There is a high degree of certainty that climate change is seriously disrupting the water cycle. Air is getting warmer, receiving larger quantities of water vapor, hence those hellishly hot days are becoming increasingly difficult to bear due to the higher relative humidity. And that's not all. Timing and quantity of precipitation is also changing. Research shows that Southern Europe will see a reduction in the quantity of precipitation and that the timing of precipitation will change. There will be strong, intense and longer-lasting droughts, but also more frequent and more intense heavy rainfalls. Suddenly, my friend the water starts to become my enemy. Causes accidents, disasters, famine...
Just like others, I read portals, you know, I'm informed. My friends are not like that, my friends are really very nice... Maybe the problem is not elsewhere, maybe it’s with me. I don’t listen. I don’t understand the changes they are undergoing, the needs of the others. Or maybe I am reading the wrong portals. Believe me, it’s not about the water. It’s about me. While Greta Tunberg is convincing the world moguls to do something about climate change as they are the richest, I still think it has to do with me. It has to do with all of us. Maybe I need to change in order to make a difference. Let us all take action to save water.
Where to start from? From home of course, where else. I cannot sit with the big guys in Davos and tell people what to do. But if 30% of the water in my household is spent to flush the toilet, I can buy a toilet tank with dual flushing - one for number one and one number two. Number one is much more common, but we flush the same quantity of water. Anyways, right now I don’t feel like buying a new toilet tank, calling the handyman… forget it. But I can lift the lid of the tanks and tighten the bolt that regulates the float, and with each flush release 8 instead of 10 liters of water. That's 20% savings. Or maybe I do need a handyman to do it for me. Here’s what you can definitely do, put a plastic bottle in the toilet tank. Or a few smaller ones. With each flush you will save water equivalent to the volume of these bottles. Here are more proposals. If you like to drink cold water, refrigerate it, do not cool it with prolonged running of water. When you are watering the garden, do it with a watering can, or install an efficient irrigation system. Just don't let the hose run for hours. Think about buying house appliances (washing machines and dishwashers) that consume significantly less water. When purchasing a dishwasher, consider a smaller one that fits your needs. Replace the shower with a more modern one, with a smaller flow. Do other small things like close the faucet while brushing your teeth, shorten the showering time. And let’s not forget to fix all the taps that drip and leak water. Inspect the toilet tank, very often you need to intervene if the water is not completely at rest.
You may already know this, but let me say it once again, agriculture is, globally, the largest consumer of fresh water. It is estimated that in our country agriculture consumes over 60% to 80% of the water (depending on the research). I often stress that farmers manage 50% of the country's land, over 60% of the water, and I guess there are far more animals in their stables and chicken coops than there are in the natural environment. That's why I think they are the most important segment in the protection of the environment and the natural resources. Water in agriculture is consumed extremely inefficiently. Irrigation using gravity techniques (furrows are still dominant here) spends unproductively over 50% of the water. As opposed to this technique, drip irrigation has an efficiency of about 90% - there's how to save water. Still, not all crops and all existing systems are suitable for drip irrigation. Hence, other ways to save water in agriculture must be explored. And here I am thinking of advanced digital technologies.
There’s one more thing. The water we eat. Believe it or not, we eat about 3,500 liters of water a day. This is related to the so-called water footprint. For the production of one kilogram of dry matter, plants consume over 300-500 liters of water, even more. Very interesting are the FAO info-charts and the charts of other organizations concerning water footprint of some agricultural and food products. For example, 35 liters of water are used for one cup of tea and even 140 liters for one cup of coffee. To produce a glass of beer 75 liters of water are used, for glass of wine 120 liters, for glass of apple juice 190 liters and for glass of milk 200 liters of water. If you drink a glass of water, you use only 0.2 liters of water. It is up to you to choose. If you eat one apple, you have eaten 70 liters of water, and with one tomato you have eaten only 13 liters. One piece of bread is 40 liters of water, one egg is 135 liters of water. One hamburger astounding 2400 liters of water. In principal, livestock products consume a lot more water because in order to obtain a unit of product it takes plant food in quantities several times bigger. This is where you come in. Introduce a vegan day into your diet. Today I will eat only plant products.
Huge quantities of water are being consumed globally to produce food. According to some data, as much as 25% of the world's water resources are spent annually on food production that will never be eaten. Over 1/3 of the food produced ends up as waste. In developed countries, over 50% of this waste is generated in households. You will certainly find it difficult to use products that do not meet the standards, but try to buy smart, cook smart, order smart in restaurants - just enough, not more than you can eat.
Join us, make your own #ClimateAction, save water.