Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on The Progressive Book Club.
[Last fall I installed a rain barrel in our back yard…just one, and I wish I'd purchased two instead! It holds 65 gallons of rain water, which is clean, clear and really refreshing! I am so happy that it's sitting there doing its job! ~JB]
Did you know that the world is running dry? That a water crisis, linked to global warming, is arguably the largest environmental challenge facing the United States and the world today? After reading Water Consciousness you’ll be in no doubt. Designed to be both practical and beautiful, Water Consciousness presents readers with a welter of information, alternately fascinating and alarming, about our water — where it comes from, where it goes, how we use — and waste — it, how much — and how little — there is, how we can conserve and protect it, and much more. The book, which features contributions by Bill McKibben, Maude Barlow, Vandana Shiva, and other top environmental writers, is a model of accessibility and includes colorful images, charts, and other visuals, as well as a stunning photo essay. It’s a book that will change how you think about and use water every day.
Here, drawn from the book, are 14 steps you can take to protect our water.
- 1. FIND OUT HOW MUCH WATER YOU USE. Visit the Water Calculator to see what you can do to cut back (www.h2oconserve.org).
- 2. STOP DRINKING BOTTLED WATER. Choose tap water over bottled water whenever possible. Create a bottled water free zone in your classroom, campus, workplace, union, community center, city hall, environmental organization, or faith-based group. (www.polarinstitute.org/water, www.thinkoutsidethebottle.org)
- 3. HELP CREATE A CLEAN WATER TRUST FUND. Support public control of water resources and increased funding for public drinking water by signing a petition urging Congress to create a Clean Water Trust Fund. (www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/trust-fund)
- 4. CONSERVE WATER INSIDE. Retrofit with efficient appliances and fixtures, take shorter showers, check faucets for leaks and drips. (www.awwa.org/waterwiser)
- 5. CONSERVE WATER OUTSIDE. Reduce lawn size and choose drought-tolerant xeriscapes. You can also recycle municipal water and on-site graywater, or harvest rainwater to use in the garden. (www.bewaterwise.com, www.rainwaterharvesting.net)
- 6. DON’T POLLUTE YOUR WATERSHED. Stop using toxic cleaners, pesticides, and herbicides. Properly dispose of pharmaceuticals and personal care products. (www.watoxics.org/homes-and-gardens, www.newdream.org/marketplace/recycle.php)
- 7. LEARN ABOUT YOUR WATERSHED. Form a watershed group. River keeper organizations, Friends of Creeks groups, and watershed councils are springing up all over the country. (www.4sos.org/wssupport/group-support/form_run.asp)
- 8. HELP KEEP YOUR WATERSHED HEALTHY. Support or start water-quality monitoring programs. Citizen-based water-quality monitoring is an accessible and meaningful way to understand the health of our waterways. (www.healthywater.org)
- 9. CLEAN UP AGRICULTURE. Buy local and organic food. Help with the implementation of on-farm water conservation and protection programs. (www.polarinstitute.org/water,www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs)
- 10. PROTECT GROUNDWATER FROM DEPLETION AND DEGRADATION. Help ensure legislation to manage and protect all groundwater. Unlike our system of surface-water rights, the extraction of unlimited quantities of groundwater is largely unregulated. (www.groundwater.org)
- 11. LEARN ABOUT DAMS IN YOUR AREA. Oppose construction of new dams and always ask if any planned dams are really necessary, or if there are better, less destructive ways of conserving water, preventing floors, or generating power. (www.internationalrivers.org)
- 12. REDUCE YOUR ENERGY USE. Producing electricity uses lots of water. You can figure out how much energy you use at Low Carbon Diet. (www.empowermentinstitute.net/lcd/)
- 13. SUPPORT THE RIGHT TO WATER FOR EVERYONE. Learn more about grassroots movements for water democracy and support for the United Nations covenant on the right to water. (www.blueplanetproject.net)
- 14. HELP SPREAD THE WORD. Visit WaterConsciousness.org for more information.