This is how we all can make a difference to reduce water pollution-
As you read this, consider that your brain is made up of 73 percent water, while the planet we live on is about 70 percent water. Only three percent of Earth’s water is freshwater, with most of that locked in ice.
Now consider that the human population is climbing from over 7.7 billion people who would all die in a couple weeks without access to water. Already more than a billion people live without enough safe, clean water, and there is no way to manufacture more. The water on the planet is all we have, and as it evaporates and cycles through our groundwater, through our bodies, and returns to the atmosphere, it permanently connects all life on earth.
The pressures from an ever-rising population, climate change caused by human activities, and pollution create higher and higher demand for clean drinking water. Right now, more than 633 million people face health risks by consuming water that could be contaminated. Of those people, 1.8 million may be drinking water contaminated by feces, from both human and animal sources.
Obviously, contaminated water leads to disease, with over 250 million cases of water-related illnesses reported globally each year. Even in countries with the best access to filtered and relatively clean water, such as the U.S., there are instances where thousands of people face permanent health problems due to contaminated water supplies.
One source of contamination comes from inadequate access to public restrooms, much worse in developing countries. However, even in America, human sewage can be found in water that irrigates 10 percent of our crops.
Water sources, both fresh and from the ocean, are being filled with plastics, chemicals, bottles, cans, industrial waste, agricultural waste, oil spills, and even nuclear reactor radiation.
High levels of agricultural runoff lead to toxic algae blooms that cause massive fish die-offs in coastal areas that depend on tourism dollars. Combined with the effects of warming seas due to climate change, ecosystems are devastated.
— The Weather Network (@weathernetwork) March 22, 2016
The scale of the problem becomes apparent when you consider there are now floating islands of waste twice the size of Texas in the Pacific. The plastics in these massive collections of debris may never break down and lead to the deaths of untold quantities of sea life, from microscopic organisms to the largest of whales.
The plastic contaminants don’t just end up in the ocean, but also collects on the slopes of the highest mountain tops. Those particles enter the food chain, which means that those contaminants end up inside of us as well. Every single day, another megaton of plastic is produced and only ten percent will ever be recycled. Each year, one American goes through 270 pounds of plastic waste.
Plastic filled more than two thirds of the sperm whale's stomach, and it's only the most recent in a long list of marine mammals turning up dead in similar condition https://t.co/wi2z6Y4B3r
— National Geographic (@NatGeo) April 2, 2019
It is overwhelming to consider how vast the problems really are, but each of us has a role to play that can help.
Solving the plastics problem
If everyone had access to a recycling program, then we could begin to recycle a much higher percentage of the world’s plastics. Individuals can work at the local level to develop and strengthen their community recycling programs.
However, rather than a temporary fix, why not solve the problem long-term?
National Geographic, along with Sky Ocean Ventures have created a challenge for the world’s best inventors and innovators. The Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge will reward $500,000 prizes as well as business mentoring and investments for the best ideas for solving the plastic problem. There are three categories: design better packaging, creative zero-waste business models, and new and creative ways to illustrate the massive scale of the problem.
— Schmidt Marine (@SMTPSF) April 1, 2019
Clever entrepreneurs are currently tackling part of the plastics problem with global cleanup efforts. The 4Ocean team has given value to ocean plastics, selling bracelets made from the refuse collected from the ocean. In the process, they are helping drive innovations for collection methods, creating jobs, and raising education and awareness about the impact of plastics on the ocean.
— 4ocean (@4oceanBracelets) March 31, 2019
New plastics made from algae or other biodegradable materials seem to be just around the corner. For one example, in New Orleans, there is a push to move to Mardis Gras beads made from algae. As consumers, we can support biodegradable plastics with our dollars whenever possible.
By 2020, New Orleans revelers could be tossing beads made from algae instead of plastic. ⚜️ https://t.co/eINKUn8mU2
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) March 6, 2019
Solving the chemicals problem
Aside from plastics, abrasive and toxic chemicals are constantly flowing into the Earth’s water systems. These include household and industrial products and chemicals on a massive scale. The best way for each person to combat the problem is with their buying power. We can each choose to buy natural biodegradable products and by doing so we each encourage corporations to follow the demand. It’s also an option to make your own safe cleaning products yourself, such as mixing white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon or orange juice.
— Slate (@Slate) April 23, 2018
Yes, this one may seem like a pain to many of us, especially Americans who use 300 gallons each day for an average family, twice the volume of water as the next highest country. We have come to take water for granted. However, there are hundreds of ways that each person can help conserve water. As the demand for water will only go up from here on out, it’s a great idea to become familiar with ways to conserve water now. See some examples in the video below.
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Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube