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PGC Notes: As a reminder, you must follow all submission instructions in order to be considered for a daily prize. This means including your name, username, email address, and school in every submission. Please be sure to fully read the instructions for each challenge! Thanks.
“Water is the driving force of all nature.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci
There are few things that inspire as much wonderment as water. Just think about the number of beach views and waterfalls that flood your Instagram feed every summer. Or the poems, paintings, and water sports that are a celebration of water’s strength and subtlety. Water is a source of inspiration, a place of beauty, and the foundation of life.
Water is life.
And with water just a faucet turn away (at least in the developed world), it can feel like it’s an infinite resource. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Clean, safe drinking water is a scarce resource that’s under great strain in many parts of the world.
Even though water is considered to be a renewable resource, we are extracting and polluting water at such a high rate, that the water supply isn’t able to replenish itself.
According to the US Geological Survey, water covers 70% of our planet, but only 2.5% of that water is freshwater. Of that freshwater, only 1.5% is on the surface and able to nourish life on earth. Stress on our freshwater supplies is intensified by the uncertainties of climate change and pollution. Extreme weather patterns including droughts and floods can place countless people at risk of becoming water insecure – meaning that they do not have enough clean water to drink, farm, and maintain good hygiene. And this is all happening while pollution continues to fill our streams, rivers and lakes making them undrinkable.
Today, over 2.1 billion people lack access to clean water and 4 billion live with water scarcity. In contrast, the average American uses about 751,777 gallons of water per year. This number is an average “water footprint,” which is a similar concept to a carbon footprint. But instead, a water footprint is the amount of water that someone uses over a given span of time. What’s tricky is that most of that water usage is virtual, hidden, or used indirectly to provide goods and services, such as food and electricity.
Let’s consider a factory farmed burger and your water footprint after eating it. You may have an 8-ounce glass of water with your burger. But your water footprint for that meal is close to 660 gallons of water to raise and feed the cow. And if it’s a cheeseburger? Then it takes 382 gallons of water for one pound of cheese. If you are interested in seeing more examples of how much water inputs are required for the food you eat, check out this great read from our partner GRACE Communications. You may be really surprised!
The good news is that the indirect nature of water use means that you can do more than simply take shorter showers to conserve this valuable resource. There are plenty of actions you can take individually and with your larger community to lower your water footprint. Your challenge today is to learn about your water footprint, opt for some changes, and also to start a ripple of behavior change on your campus and throughout your networks by raising awareness.
Every person has a right to clean water. As water use increases and supply dwindles, the pressure for sustainable management of this resource is on us. This means engaging in water conscious consumer practices and conserving wherever we can. Our hidden water footprint makes up 96% of our total water use. Knowing your baseline use will make it easier to reduce your footprint.
Any idea how much water you are using every day? Think about the food you eat, the showers you take, and the water you drink to quench your thirst. How much direct water consumption? And indirect consumption?
(Make sure you include both a direct and indirect consumption. )
Here’s a definition of virtual water from Hoekstra and Chapagain: “the volume of freshwater used to produce a specific product, measured at the place where the product was actually produced. It refers to the sum of the water use in the various steps of the production chain.”
Now, calculate your actual water consumption:
Upload a PDF Document with your responses along with your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.
Virtual water use makes up the majority of our water footprint. Virtual water use is the amount of water needed to make the goods you use. You may be surprised just how much your virtual use adds up. Everything from growing the food you eat to your favorite pair of jeans requires water for production, a lot of water. Many of these products, goods, and services may have a heavier burden than you think.
Upload a PDF Document with your responses. Include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.
According to CNN, Americans throw away half a billion plastic straws every day, which is enough to circle the Earth 2.5 times. We use each straw literally one time before tossing it. Just think about the sheer number of straws people receive every single day in your smoothies, iced coffee, milkshakes, etc. Many of these straws end up breaking into micro-plastics, contaminating our oceans and waterways. It is predicted that by 2050, the amount of plastic in the oceans will out weight the amount of fish! To get rid of this abomination, we’re asking you to join the #StopSucking campaign for this challenge. They are working to get rid of plastic straws to save our oceans!
Upload a PDF Document with your responses and photos. Include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.
Extra Credit due on October 25 @ 6am PT.
Up to 200 points awarded for outstanding work.
Based on what you’ve learned today, it’s time to take your strawless campaign the next step. Individual actions add up big time, but if you can enlist the support of your entire campus community, the impact will be massive! Commit to eliminating straws – develop a campaign to achieve that goal right on your campus!
While Turning Green was on the Conscious College Road Tour this past spring, a resonant theme we heard from students was that they wanted to divest from the use of plastic straws on their campus. With that in mind, we want to prompt you to make that happen on your campus or in your community. Over the next few weeks we task you with building and implementing a campaign to eliminate plastic straws. The goal is to persuade one eatery on campus or in your community, a convenience store, etc. to pledge to get rid of straws. It’s worth 200 bonus points!
Upload a PDF Document with your responses, photos, video link (make it public so we can see it) and social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.