Posted by: Donna Cunningham | October 15, 2010

Our Precious Water Supply and How We Can Preserve It


©10-15-2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

 Today is Blog Action Day, an event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about one important issue with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action. This year, Skywriter is joining with over 4500 blogs in 133 countries that have pledged to publish posts on the subject of clean water.  (UPDATE: It wound up being over 5500 blogs in 143 countries.)

 So far in this miniseries, we’ve looked at the element water from an astrological perspective. We taken a test to measure the strength of the water element in our charts and have attuned ourselves to water’s centering and cleansing properties. Today we’ll explore some simple things we can all do to preserve the earth’s precious and dwindling water supplies.

 Here are a few startling facts about the water crisis from the Blog Action website:

  • Conservation Starts at Home: The average person uses 465 liters of water per day. Find out how much you use. More Info »
  • Food Footprint: It takes 24 liters of water to produce one hamburger. That means it would take over 19.9 billion liters of water to make just one hamburger for every person in Europe. More Info »
  • Bottled Water Footprint: The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled. More Info »
  • Fashion Footprint: That cotton t-shirt you’re wearing took 1,514 liters of water to produce, and your jeans required an extra 6,813 liters. More Info »
  • Waste Overflow: Every day, 2 million tons of human waste are disposed of in water sources. This not only negatively impacts the environment but also harms the health of surrounding communities. More Info »
  • Polluted Oceans: Death and disease caused by polluted coastal waters costs the global economy $12.8 billion a year. More Info »
  • Uninhabitable Rivers: Today, 40% of America’s rivers and 46% of America’s lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life. More Info »

What You Can Do–Simple Ways to Preserve our Water Supplies

We’re not powerless—there are things we can do right at home to ease the world’s water crisis. We’re all wasting water in our homes and yards–the bathroom and toilet use nearly 40% of all water in the home. You can save many gallons of water every day by easy actions like putting a half-gallon bottle in your toilet tank to cut down on the water needed to flush.  Here are some helpful sites:

This miniseries will continue tomorrow with some amazing findings on how to use water to heal yourself and others. 

Readers, can you think of ways you can use less water?  Share them in the comment section.   


  1. Hi Donna,

    Thanks for your blog on this very important issue!

    The change I’ve made in the past year is to stop buying bottled water. I have a filter on my refrigerator and use that for my drinking water. If I’m going to be out in the car, at yoga, etc., I’ve got a stainless steel bottle that I fill up before I leave to take with me.

    When I took my recycling out yesterday a.m. to be picked up, I noticed my neighbor’s bin was full of water bottles. I can remember 10 years ago in San Diego my bin looked the same. And I thought it was OK because I recycled the bottles. Ever since seeing the Oprah show where the topic was the Pacific Ocean garbage dump that’s the size of Texas, and consists mostly of plastic, that’s when I began to reduce my consumption of plastic.

    Now my daily goal is to produce the least amount of actual trash possible and to recycle as much as possible. And I recycle everything: cardboard, paper, glass, tin, aluminum, and yes, plastic.

    On the food footprint issue, if we buy more organic foods that will mean less pesticides and other chemicals flowing into our rivers and oceans. I saw something on TV recently where a farmer in the plains (Iowa, Indiana, somewhere around there) went totally organic to help the Gulf of Mexico, where a dead zone is created each year by the rivers feeding into it with all of the farming run off.

    The idea of thinking globally while acting locally applies to everything. When you know better, you do better!


    • Thanks for the recycling thoughts and tips, Karen. I’m proud to live in Portland, OR, one of the cities where recycling is mandatory, and I shudder to think of the many thousands of cities and towns across the US with no recycling whatsoever. But you’re making me think–it would be better not to have so much to recycle in the 1st place. Donna

  2. Great post Donna. I so agree on the water bottle issue and know that we can do more in our family to change our patterns. Thanks for this post.

  3. From a 79 water score:
    The old 60’s slogan: Save water, shower with a friend! LOL!
    But on a serious note:
    -Americans have been conned into buying expensive, disposable water bottles by the SODA companies, which are the companies that own most of the bottled water brands. Not only do those bottles cost too much, they use precious resources in manufacture of the bottles and many are not recyled.
    Those waters also drain precious acquifers and deplete local water supplies of the springs from which they originate. IF they originate from a spring! Many come out of plain old municipal water supplies and are purified at the plant)IF they are actually purified. You can save money and water by purifying your own tap or well water.
    -By USED clothing when possible.
    -Plant lawns and gardens that are drought resistant and use as little water as possible.
    Consider having smaller lawns. They use less water and are less work to maintain. Make a rock garden instead! It’s prettier!
    -Use grey water which is waste water from dishes, baths, drinks, etc. on gardens. I also put left over unsweetened tea on acid loving plants.
    -If you don’t want water with a meal when you eat out, request that the server not bring you any.
    -Install low flow shower heads, washers, dishwashers and toilets and promptly fix any drips, leaks,etc.
    -Keep a rain barrel to use to water gardens.
    -Eat less meat.
    -Take shorter showers.
    -Wash cars only when absolutely needed and go to a car wash that recycles its water.
    -Turn off the spigot when brushing your teeth.
    – Ye olden rule: If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down.

  4. For years, I drank bottled mineral water, mostly because tap water made me sick to my stomach. Then I started adding a squeeze of lemon to the tap water (which makes it more alkaline), and I was fine.

    Another interesting fact is those discarded cigarette butts – you know, the ones that most smokers casually toss – end up in the world’s waterways where their chemical components can enter our drinking water supply. In many areas, the beaches are littered with cigarette butts that wash up on shore after entering the ocean via the storm drains. In other areas, they end up in rivers and streams. Here’s a great article on the subject:

    I’m no longer a smoker, but when I was, I used to carry an empty cigarette pack to hold my butts until I could throw them away. My friends made fun of me, but I didn’t care; I was taught not to litter. And in case anyone is wondering – for now at least – cigarette butts are not recyclable or compostable. If we don’t want them to end up in our water, they need to be disposed of properly.

    • You were a rare, considerate smoker, indeed! Thanks from a non-smoker!
      I live in an apartment complex. Some of the smokers here go outside to smoke and discard their butts right on the grounds of the complex. Parts of the place are starting to look like a garbage dump. It is disgusting! How people can be such sloppy pigs right near their own homes is beyond me.
      Several tenants have complained to the landlord but since smoking is legal and it is apparenty legal to litter on the property, the management does nothing.
      They also discard their packs, soda and beer cans in the parking lots, which are right on the townhouse frontwalks. The managment will clean that up but does nothing to the offenders.

  5. hi donna, et al,

    living in a country where water is rationed gives you an understanding that much of the u.s. and europe may not share.

    the water bearer was a sacred character in ancient times, and even now in africa and other parts of the world, a trip to a lake or river (often miles away) with a water jar is the first item of the day.

    we have been led to believe that oil makes the world go round and overlook the fact that the last cup of drinkable water will be worth all the billions of barrels of oil in the world.

    the aquifers of our planet are becoming polluted with toxic metals, lead, arsenic, mercury, as well as pesticides and biological poisons. bottled water is an exploitative, advertising joke. in almost all cases bottled water is drawn from the common tap.

    virgo with a strong pisces element in my astrology chart perhaps makes me a rabid proponent of water conservation. this day should occasion worldwide indignation at governments and companies that are permitting and promoting a ecological disaster.

  6. Thanks, MEL810. It’s even rarer when you consider that I was a teenager at the time – Guess I’ve always been an odd bird. I’ve been a non-smoker for the past 30+ years.

    I know what you mean about neighbors. Just yesterday, I had to complain to our landlord when the new upstairs tenants dropped a cigarette butt off their deck and onto our patio (which has a storm drain).

  7. love all the comments to this great article! as a fellow portlander, i am all about recycling and conserving energy. i’m such a recycling freak, that even here in our office where we have recycling bins in each cube/office as well as in the kitchen, i find people tossing items into the trash that can (and SHOULD) go into recycling and my little picky virgo self goes to town pulling things out. (maybe i don’t need to say this here, but we’ve got people in our office throwing used kleenex and paper towels in recycling – NOT recyclable if either human bits or food particles are on these things!)

    at home, i don’t flush unless necessary (it’s just me anyway). i’m a huge water drinker – it’s all i drink, for the most part (not a soda fan). i never use plastic bottled water. i’ve got a filtered pitcher and when i’m on the go, it’s an aluminum bottle. i also don’t water the lawn much and am planning to re-do the whole thing so i have very little grass. i also have a rain barrel and coming in 2011, i’m composting food waste (no garbage disposal)! also, portland is banning plastic grocerie bags and a lot of folks around here have been on the cloth bag bandwagon for years. it’s great!

    • Another picky Virgo type here. I’m always going through our building’s recycling bin, picking out the used paper coffee cups (and holders), soiled pizza boxes, etc., and placing them in the compost bin; I think I almost have our landlord trained. We’re fortunate in that where we live, Kleenex, used paper towels, even cotton Q-tips (the cardboard kind) are all considered compostable.

  8. I would like people to become aware of the source of their water. It may seem very simple, but ask yourself this question, “From where does the water in my tap flow?” People living in industrialized countries take too many things for granted: 95% of Americans do not know the source of their water.

    Connect back to Nature: know the origin of your water and food. Be humble and recognize that people are a strand in the Great Web of Life and not the entire Web. Everything that you do affects every other creature in the world.

  9. These posts remind me of the “If Virgos ruled the world” blog. My Virgo moon / pluto conjunction loves it:) I may have been known to take something out of the trash at work and put it in recycling myself:)

    Love the outside of the US perspectives on water. We (the US) really need to get our act together around water!! And the idea of becoming aware of the source of both your water and your food makes it very real again; it’s not something that ‘just happens.’

    The Pacific Northwest is beautiful and has always been ‘greener’ (both literally and figuratively) than most of the US. I just met someone from Oregon last weekend and we bonded over PNW (as I call it) and it was funny because he said, “It’s clean.” I replied, “I’ve used those exact words myself!”

    I don’t know how many Southwesterners read this blog, but of course all of Southern CA, Las Vegas and Phoenix feed off of the Colorado River, (in addition to CO itself) so that’s quite the dependency.

    So here’s something I’ve often wondered: why does it seem like the childless are more concerned about recycling and leaving behind a healthy planet than the people who actually have the kids who will need a healthy planet? Forgive the sweeping generalization here, but I’ve found in my own life that sometimes people with kids can’t be bothered. In both NY and CA, they have cash refunds for cans and bottles, so they’re mostly returned for recycling to get the cash back (if only by the homeless). But here in FL, there’s no compensation for recycling these items. I’ve had to learn that I can’t control the amount of plastic bottles put in the garbage here! But my own Virgo brother (Gem moon / Leo rising), who has 2 kids and a grandson, ‘can’t be bothered’ to recycle and laughs at me! And my younger sister in NY will recycle them, but won’t take them back to the grocery store for the five cents per bottle or can. I said, “You’re teaching your kids to throw money away; you have to go to the grocery store anyway!” It shows how disconnected people are from the reality of the earth vs. their own perceived time crunch reality. I’m sure a lot of people with kids who read this would reply, “You have a lot more time to think about these things than I do!”

    What really bothers me is when we know better but choose not to do better. Ah yes, and my Virgo moon / pluto conjunction has just revealed itself in all of its perfectionism and hyper-criticality 🙂

    • Where are the homeless when you really need them? In big cities like NYC and Portland, the homeless go around and collect bottles that pay deposits, so they are at least recycled. Sad that the homeless are better citizens of the earth than the careless haves. Donna

    • Hey Karen, nice post! I’m from Denver and it’s funny that you mention the dependency on western rivers, because Denver Water announced that they were planning to raise the cost of water by 31.2% over the course of three years in order to help with infrastructure and to get people to conserve more. The main concern of several Denver city council members is that there would be more brown lawns during the summer! It truly blows one’s mind to see how connected people are to “artificial nature,” but how oblivious they are to the world around them.

  10. Where I work, there is a lot of paper waste, and even though there are recycle trash bins in the building, there is no recycle pick up. (?) The person who collects our trash daily is forced to combine recyclable paper with regular trash.
    Since there is recycling at home, I collect all the waste paper that I encounter, save it and bring it home to recycle. I even have one co-worker give me his waste paper to recycle. I guess if you bitch enough…

    I think I will bring this up at the next meeting.
    Don”t know why I didn’t before.

    Every little bit helps. You don’t have to be a super-recycler, just be aware and think before you act. Going out of your way and recycling makes you feel good and helpful. And that’s great encouragement to continue.

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