I think we can all agree that water is essential to life; without it, the vast majority of life will perish, including people. Pope Francis writes specifically about water in Laudato Si:
…as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights.
But access to clean, disease-free, drinkable water is not assured for a sizable percentage of the world’s population. According to the World Health Organization:
- 785 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service.
- Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces.
- Contaminated water can transmit diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio.
- Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause 485,000 diarrheal deaths each year.
- By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
What can you do to help ensure access to clean water for all? You can start by conserving water usage: fixing leaks, purchasing water-efficient appliances and toilets, taking shorter showers, turning the water off when brushing your teeth, bringing tap water when you go out rather than purchasing bottled water, washing your car less often, and reducing the watering of your lawn, if you have one.
Secondly, you can consider water usage when purchasing food and clothing. The manufacturing of jeans and other clothing uses a large amount of water. And the production of meat takes a lot more water than plants, so eating less meat and more veggies will help too.
Thirdly, you can work to reduce water pollution by using less-toxic household cleaners, solvents, and other chemicals, and practicing organic farming.
Working together, we can help take care of our common home.