Clean water is an essential part of our lives. We drink it, we cook with it, we bathe in it, we play in it (I mean some of us play in it, others of us just maybe lounge by it). And when you think about it, everyone should have access to it. Unfortunately, that is not even close to the case.
There are an estimated 663 million people around the world that are living without safe, potable water. To put that into perspective, that’s more than double the U.S. population, or 1 in 8 people. One in 8. Yikes. Here are a few more startling facts:
- According to the UN, half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from water related diseases.
- The UN also says that water sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
- Half a million children die every year due to water related diseases according to UNICEF.
- Women and children collectively walk 200 million miles a day to collect water, which is often dirty and unsafe.
- The UN reported that in 2015 2.4 billion people didn’t have access to a toilet (P.S. that means that more people have access to a cell phone than a toilet).
- In 2015 the World Economic Forum declared the water crisis as the #1 global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation).
So it’s a good thing that today, March 22, is World Water Day. A day to take action, a day to tackle the water crisis and a day to focus the world’s attention on the importance of universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. It is also a day to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
The theme for World Water Day this year is “Why Waste Water?” with the intent to improve water quality and reducing, treating and reusing wastewater. The vast majority of wastewater (from homes, cities, industry and agriculture) around the world flows back to nature without being treated or reused. Unfortunately, that means it’s polluting drinking and bathing water as well as irrigation. So obviously, reducing this wastewater and safely treating it would be of benefit to us all.
And never fear, there are countless organizations out there that have joined in to help the fight. Check out just a handful below.
Vivid Roots is a lifestyle brand focused on “living life vividly.” Founded by a group of four college students after a backpacking trip in the mountains of Idaho, the company seeks to inspire a movement of social change by making it easy to make an impact. They believe that living life vividly not only includes adventure, passion and good times, but also authenticity, hard work and helping people less fortunate. A thousand times yes to all of this.
Currently Vivid Roots donates approximately 20% of their profits to clean water initiatives. They partner with Rotary clubs and the non-profit Water for the Americas to implement sustainable clean water systems in developing countries. Through these partnerships they have been able to implement wells, water filtration and distribution systems, as well as educating the communities impacted on running and maintaining their systems, so they can continue to have clean water for life.
Threading Water is a company that is all about farming. Just kidding, they’re about water. The company has a collection of great basics that also provide clean water. For every item they sell Threading Water provides one year of clean water to someone in need, with the mission of providing clean water to as many people as possible. Through their partnership with Lifewater, they are able to fund the building of wells for people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to safe water.
As a little added bonus, they’re also socially responsible when they make their garments, thinking of everything from sourcing to worker compensation. No sweatshops, thank you very much. They also make sure their shirts are top quality so you can wear them over and over again (no disposable clothing here).
Kōkua is a Salt Lake City based company that sells water bottles with the aim to help alleviate the water crisis (see what they did there?). Another company that has partnered with Lifewater, Kōkua donates 10% of its net revenue to Lifewater to fund wells.
Their reusable bottles are built with passion and integrity — meaning they are built to last and use the latest technology to make sure that bevvie of yours is just how you want it. The bottles come in two sizes (25 oz. or 34 oz.), two colors (black or white) and have a sweet bamboo top (which you can swap out for an alternative top, but then you just wouldn’t be as cool).
Seen a lot of people today (myself included) flashing dubs (that’s a ‘W’ for all the old people out there)? Well, they’re not saying they’re winners (even though they are for supporting this cause), they’re showing their support for Drop4Drop. Drop4Drop is a company that funds sustainable clean water solutions to countries that need it most. They demand accountable, effective and efficient provision of clean water. They do this by building wells in communities in need. Every project they undertake provides clean water to a community of over 1000 people who have never before had it. They provide hygiene education, employ local laborers, provide maintenance training and get those communities involved — all to create a sense of ownership and pride.
For World Water Day, Drop4Drop asked folks to post a ‘W’ snap on social media to promote the campaign. The ‘W’ is meant to stand for a few things:
- Worldwide access to water (obvi)
- Wake up World (a little aggressive, but I feel you)
- We need to act (okay, agreed)
- Whatever it takes (more power to ya)
- Water is a human right (you’re gosh darn right it is)
- WE CAN DO THIS (okay, now I’m pumped)
So, what are you waiting for, get out there and show everyone you’re a winner/you support the cause. You can also find more ways to get involved with Drop4Drop here.
Founded in 2009 by then pro surfer, Jon Rose, Waves for Water began as a way for travelers to do what they love — travel — and help along the way. The company began as a Courier Program, or as they say, a DIY distribution network of travelers to carry water filters with them in their luggage to places in need. Their filtration systems are portable, easy to use, easy to pack and effective — just one filter can provide 100 people with clean water for up to 5 years.
Since then the company has evolved to working everywhere on the front lines of the water crisis. They continue to provide access to clean water via the Courier Programs, but also through the digging and renovating of wells, and the construction of rainwater harvesting and storing systems. Since its inception, Waves for Water has touched over 7 million people in more than 27 countries, including Sierra Leone, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Haiti, Brazil, Liberia, Mexico, India and Columbia (phew, that was a mouthful). They have teamed up with the U.S. Military to provide water across eight countries (ranging from active war-zone initiatives to projects partnering with US Embassies), and now have formed the Clean Water Corps which will serve as a specialized clean water task force ready at a moment’s notice. And last but not least, the company coordinates and executes natural disaster relief efforts around the world.
So, how can you help? Check out their page, where you can find a program to get involved, support a program by giving a donation or holding a fundraiser, or just share how absolutely great they are on social media. Taylor Stitch is also donating ALL proceeds from three of their Ty Williams designed products in this month’s collection to Waves for Water.
A lot of people think this water crisis is only hitting countries far from home. That, unfortunately, is not the case. Roughly 1.3 million Americans don’t have access to hot and cold running water, a bathtub or shower, or working flush toilet. Many more don’t have clean water that’s safe to drink. Dig Deep is working to ensure that every American has clean, running water. The non-profit works on community-led water access project that empower American communities to build and manage low-cost systems that bring safe, hot and cold water into homes, schools and community centers. They also provide education and advocacy programs with the goal to help Americans that do have access to clean water form a deeper and lasting connection to the water that is so often taken for granted. Learn how you can help here.
And not that I’m suggesting you just throw money at the problem (well maybe I am), but check out the below organizations that are always looking for donations:
- Charity Water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. They work with local experts and community members to find the best sustainable solution in each place they work. You can donate or fundraise to help.
- Water For People is an international nonprofit working across 9 countries to bring safe water and sanitation. They not only build wells, install toilets, and set up pumps, but also create long-term, sustainable change by talking to community members, governments and business owners to find out what they need to feel healthy, safe and empowered. You can donate here.
- Water.org empowers women to get safe water by helping them access affordable financing through WaterCredit. With the belief that charity alone is not enough to solve the problem (estimates say it would take $200 billion/year over five years to end the global water crisis, where currently donations sit at $8 billion/year), WaterCredit provides small, affordable loans that enable them to help install household water connections and toilets. Donate to Water.org here.
- UNICEF provides clean and safe drinking water, child friendly spaces for counseling, rest and play, essential vitamins and nutrients and more. You can donate here.
- Surfrider Foundation is constantly working to improve coastal water quality across the country. You can support them here.
What other companies do you know of that are working to help solve the global water crisis?