Going Green: How You Can Help Protect the World's Water Supplies

Going Green: How You Can Help Protect the World's Water Supplies

On World Water Day, we offer a few easy ways you can reduce your water footprint—from consuming less to protecting the world's oceans.

On World Water Day, we offer a few easy ways you can reduce your water footprint—from consuming less to protecting the world's oceans.

Text: William Defebaugh

Reduce your carbon footprint. With the polar ice caps melting at an alarming rate (which has a ripple effect on the rest of the world's water sources), the oceans are the first to suffer from climate change. The easiest way to fight this is by reducing your own carbon footprint on the planet—a topic you can explore more here.

Be smart about your seafood. While the oceans may seem like an endless resource for food, fish populations are rapidly depleting to high demand. This is due, in part, to the unsustainable models that the industry is following (along with habitat loss from pollution). Educate yourself on where your seafood is coming from, and how it got to you. National Geographic has a great guide for that, which you can read here.

Save water. This one should come as a no-brainer, and yet, a recent survey found that the average American uses 80-100 gallons of water per day (by comparison, the average Swiss person uses 40). The good news is that the steps toward reducing your water footprint are easy: install a water-saving shower head, take shorter showers (and maybe fewer ones, if those around you don't mind), and don't leave the water running while brushing your teeth or washing the dishes.

Use less plastic. Yes, I know; plastic bags are convenient, especially in the hustle and bustle of your very busy life. But the plastic you use ends up becoming ocean debris, which kills more than 100,000 marine animals every year from habitat destruction and entanglement (ask yourself: is that bag from your local bodega really worth killing a dolphin?). You can read more horrifying statistics here, or you could just get a reusable bag and water container. Your choice.

Shop sustainably. If you see makeup, accessories, or jewelry that involve any marine byproducts (tortoise shell, coral pieces, shark squalene), just don't buy them. It's that simple. For a list of sustainable-friendly brands, click here.

Support marine protection organizations. Consider getting involved with or donating money to the brave organizations fighting tirelessly to protect the world's oceans, and cleaning them up (currently, over 5 trillion pieces of trash litter the oceans around the globe). Here are a few organizations to consider: Oceanic Preservation Society, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Ocean Conservancy, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, the Ocean Cleanup, Parley for the Oceans, drop4drop.

Advocate for policy change. Trump's proposed federal budgets included a slashing of the EPA's funding by 31% (which shouldn't have come as much of a surprise considering his stance on climate change). Contact your local representatives and tell them that this is not okay, and that you want them to advocate for a United States government that cares about scientific research about climate change and protecting the world's natural resources.

Educate and encourage others. Tackling environmental issues can seem daunting; the problems are larger-than-life, and you're just one person. But as one person, if you can just educate five other people in your zone influence, and each of those five people can educate five people, that's how real change is made. Be that annoying person in your friend group who suggests marine-friendly meals and buys everyone else reusable containers as gifts. They may throw you some shade, but with any luck, they might just listen as well.

Going Green is a column about issues relating to the environment and sustainability written by Digital Editor William Defebaugh, who studied journalism, creative writing, and environmental sciences as the University of Michigan. Follow him on Twitter here @willwrights.

Credits: IMAGES PHOTOGRAPHED BY MICHAEL MULLER, STYLED BY BRIAN MOLLOY FOR V56 IN 2008.

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