Category Archives: drinking water

An amusing look at life without water.

What would daily life be like if the water stopped flowing in our homes?  Not very pleasant, as this brief video from The Water Channel shows in an amusing way.

In reality things are unlikely to get this bad in the near future, at least in the developed world, but water shortages and even extreme droughts are no joking matter, and are becoming more common all the time.

There’s just as much water in the world as there has always been, but finding fresh clean water where we need it and when we need it is becoming increasingly more difficult, whether due to shifting climate and weather patterns, human impacts on ecosystems, development in arid areas, increasing energy costs or aging infrastructure.  We can learn to use less (conservation behavior and lifestyle), and we can improve our water-using technology to get the same or better service from water while using a lower quantity (efficiency) .

How much water do we really need?  Life, of course, cannot exist without some water.  For humans to survive, we need, at a minimum, water to drink and water to grow food.  Some would say water for hygiene as well, although people CAN (and MANY do) survive without flushing toilets or bathing, unpleasant as the thought might be.

In an article titled Basic Water Requirements for Human Activities: Meeting Basic Needs from the journal Water International, issue 21 (1996) by Peter Gleick, (available here:  the  author advocates for a minimum of 25 liters per person (or about 6.6 gallons) per day, to meet basic human survival and sanitation needs.  This does not include any water for food production, which is an entirely different and complex issue.

For the millions of other plant and animal species with which we share the planet , water is needed for the same functions.  There is a big difference between the dozens of gallons  we need daily for survival, and the hundreds or thousands of gallons we actually use daily.

How much water do YOU need?

Bottled water: Friend or foe?

There are many reasons not to use bottled water. For an excellent and entertaining review of those reasons, see for example “The Story of Bottled Water” (from Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff Project).  But is it possible that bottled water has some redeeming qualities?  The answer, to my surprise,  is “yes”, at least if you can believe a report commissioned by Nestle Waters (Executive Summary « Environmental Life Cycle Assessment).

According to market research cited in the above report, when consumers have the choice of bottled water taken away, about 30% will opt for tap water instead.  The remaining 70% of consumers will choose another bottled beverage rather than drink water at all.  In addition to the negative health impacts of drinking more sugary or caffeine-laden beverages, the environment will also suffer. It appears that other than tap water, alternative bottled beverages involve significantly higher GHG emmissions, energy consumption and water use than bottled water.

So when event organizers, venue managers or even municipalities consider banning bottled water, they may want to consider banning other bottled drinks as well. Otherwise the unintended consequences may outweigh the benefits of this well-meaning gesture.

What do you think?


Nearest Drinking Fountain? There’s An App For That « CBS San Francisco. Thirsty?  Don’t want to hit the bottle to get a drink? (And contribute to plastic pollution, the Pacific garbage patch, global climate change, etc.)  Soon you will have … Continue reading