For many of us, clean drinking water isn’t something we give a second thought to. It’s simply there – running from the faucet, stored in the refrigerator, displayed along with hundreds of other cases of bottled water in the grocery store. If you wake up thirsty in the middle of the night, the worst part of getting a glass of water is climbing out of your cozy bed, not walking miles to the nearest source of clean water.
Today, as we near this year’s celebration of Thanksgiving, we ask you to give more thought to just how fortunate you are to have effortless access to clean drinking water.
Given how simple it is to find clean water in the immediate world we live in, it can be difficult to imagine not having water to drink whenever we please.
But the unfortunate reality is that even now in 2020, parts of the world suffer greatly due to lack of access to fresh, clean drinking water. Diseases that are mainly eradicated in many parts of the world are still prevalent in some areas due to bacteria and even feces in the water supply.
Take Vietnam, for example, where Vinh, one of our founders, grew up. Over the past several decades, the country has taken amazing strides towards providing all of its citizens with clean drinking water – but still, only 39% of the rural population has consistent access to this necessity.
Imagine spending your day with a shovel in hand, digging a shallow well in order to provide your community with much-needed water, or having to invest in a private tube well from which you can pump fresh groundwater. Picture how different your life would be if you had to take on the burden of finding clean water yourself, rather than just trusting that the water coming from your faucet is safe to drink.
There’s a lot to be proud of when it comes to the progress we’ve made around the world involving clean water (take a look at the Safe Drinking Water Act, for example), but it’s undeniable that we still have a long way to go.
In a report from 2019, the World Health Organization noted that “71% of the global population used a safely managed drinking-water service,” which means that 29% of the global population did not have access to drinking water that is guaranteed safe. That’s almost three out of every ten people!
Even though the problem may seem far from home, it’s still a prevalent one – and one that each of us should take steps to help with.
Some of the available statistics regarding clean water are downright shocking and nearly impossible to imagine.
For example, at least two billion people around the world have no option but to use a water source that contains feces. 144 million people get their drinking water from untreated sources such as lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers.
This type of dire situation can escalate quickly if the water contains dangerous bacteria. It’s common to see diseases such as polio, dysentery, typhoid, and hepatitis A in these areas.
Even healthcare in these countries suffers greatly due to the lack of clean drinking water. In fact, out of all patients in hospitals across the globe, 15% develop an additional infection while being treated. This is due to the absence of necessary water, sanitation, and hygiene practices.
Sustainability: The answer to "How can I help?"
So what can we do to help the situation? It’s not exactly realistic for everyone who has access to clean water to fly to another country and actively aid the situation.
But there is something we can integrate into our everyday lives that truly makes a difference – not just for the people suffering from a lack of clean drinking water, but also for the planet we live on. This something is sustainability.
Sustainability is a word that we hear thrown around often, particularly in the political arena during discussions concerning the environment. But what is it, really?
Sustainability is first defined as “the ability to be sustained, supported, upheld, or confirmed.”
The second entry for the word explains that it pertains to the field of environmental science: “the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.”
In other words, environmental sustainability involves making decisions during your everyday life with the greater good of the planet and its inhabitants in mind.
How to live a more sustainable life
As the Permaculture Research Institute explains, “Ensuring that human beings have access to basic resources, that their health is being protected, and that they enjoy a good quality of life within a sustainable environment is critical.”
Rather than focusing on convenience, as we often do, sustainability asks you to take a moment and consider something larger than yourself. It’s often easier than you think, and it does make a difference!
Sustainability can be simple
Simple actions like recycling, turning off the lights when you leave a room to conserve energy, and even donating old clothing instead of throwing it away are all easy things you can do to help fellow humans and the world we all share.
While one of our founders grew up in Vietnam and experienced the struggle to find clean drinking water firsthand, our other founder had a very different upbringing. Seth Inyang was raised in the Midwest United States, where agriculture is a major part of the economy and water is a plentiful resource.
But having access to clean water didn’t stop him from taking up an interest in creating a healthier and more sustainable future for all of humankind – and it shouldn’t stop you, either!
Simple ways to be more sustainable
With Thanksgiving not far away, think for just a few seconds about some small changes you could make in order to take steps towards sustainability during the holidays.
You could avoid using plastic straws for your drinks (but don’t worry, you don’t have to give up straws altogether – take a look at these great sustainable alternatives).
Swap out the paper plates for real ones and bond over doing the dishes together.
Start a conversation with the family about how thankful you are for the things we often take for granted, such as clean water.
Save leftovers rather than tossing them in the trash. Imagine the difference it would make if every family celebrating Thanksgiving made these simple efforts to embrace sustainability!
But you don’t have to stop trying to help others and the environment once the holidays have come and gone. One easy way to cut back on your own carbon footprint is to invest in a high-quality water bottle. Not only do products such as the Elemental Stainless Steel Classic Water Bottle substantially reduce the amount of plastic you use and eventually throw away, they also have a nearly endless list of benefits.
Being sustainable has never been easier
Sustainability has never been more appealing – you may not have realized that being environmentally friendly involves plenty of perks for you as well as the planet as a whole! Take our Elemental water bottles for example. They essentially pay for themselves with repeated use – you’ll no longer need to purchase cases of bottled water from the store.
And unlike typical plastic bottles, an Elemental bottle keeps your drinks cold for up to 24 hours, or hot for up to 12!
This Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful for clean water and for the products that allow us to enjoy it in a sustainable manner. Let’s embrace the effort to help our fellow humans and the Earth we all share together. Let’s look past ourselves and go the extra mile to make a difference.