Drink tap water and get water wise
You know that drinking plenty of water is good for your health, but did you know that drinking tap water is good for the health of the planet?
When you choose to drink tap water, you’re choosing not to support an unsustainable system that manufactures and ships a product that we can safely get from our tap. Public water is safer to drink than bottled water due to strict treatment regulations (Council of Canadians), however water quality varies greatly by province and region. Canadians are among the highest water users in the world. Becoming water wise means conserving water in the home (Environment Canada estimates that water use could be cut by nearly half), and adjusting our purchasing and waste disposal habits because of their impact on the water supply.
It takes a lot of energy to treat drinking water, distribute it through the system and treat it again as wastewater. As much as 3% of total energy use in North America is spent on water and wastewater treatment, and more than half of all water use in Canada is residential. Further, there is a virtual water count (or water footprint) behind everything we consume and buy. A bottle of beer requires 76 litres of water to make, a glass of wine 113 litres, a cup of coffee 136 litres and a car requires 114,000 litres!
The Big Picture: Canada’s drinking water report card
There are still places in Canada, particularly First Nations reserves and Northern communities, that do not have safe drinking water. Ecojustice actively campaigns for national water standards and released Waterproof 3: Canada’s Drinking Water Report Card. They report that as of July 2011, there were 126 First Nations communities across Canada under a drinking water advisory, an increase from 106 communities in December 2008.
Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, addressed the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Annual General Assembly on July 14, 2011, pledging her and The Council of Canadians’ full support for First Nations struggles for access to clean water and sanitation, which Canada is now required by international law to provide as a human right for all people.
Take It Up yourself
- Get a reusable water bottle, preferably made of stainless steel or glass, and drink four to eight cups of tap water a day
- Fill up the fridge with refillable bottles and pitchers of water so that water is ready to drink or grab when you’re in a hurry
- Reluctant to give up your sugary beverages because of taste? Add wedges of lime, lemon, cucumber or a few frozen berries for a natural twist
- Getting water wise also means conserving water at home: taking shorter showers, finding and fixing leaks, washing full loads of laundry, watering your lawn less often, and installing devices and appliances such as low-flow showerheads and toilets
- Don’t contaminate our water supply by flushing prescription drugs down the toilet, using fertilizers or pesticides on your lawn, or by using toxic cleaning products in your home. Run-off from these products contaminates groundwater and is hazardous for animals and ecosystems.
Take It Up with a group
- Purchase reusable water bottles and distribute to group members or employees free of charge along with information about health and environmental benefits
- Implement a “bottled water ban” at work and then install a water filter at the sink to incentivize tap water; playfully penalize employees who continue to buy water (e.g. they contribute $1 to a water wise collection jar)
- Promote wise water use by exhibiting contents of garbage and recycling from used plastic water bottles you’ve collected in your school or workplace
- Practice water conservation by designating a water steward responsible for finding and fixing leaks and installing devices and appliances such as faucet aerators and low-flow toilets
- Challenge your group to give up coffee or another beverage with a high virtual water count during your commitment period
- Learn more about major water issues from the Council of Canadians and get involved championing for safe and protected water for all people in Canada.