Water is today’s international blog action day theme
Today October 15th 2010 is Blog Action Day, its theme, water. You can read more about this event here blogactionday.change.org
In summation: it’s when people who write online around the world unite for one day to write about a single subject in a hope to highlight it. Supported by such organisations as UNICEF and GreenPeace to tech companies like Google and Mashable, along with The White House and U.K. Foreign Office, it’s simply about raising awareness.
There’s a United Nations petition for the right to clean water at the bottom right of this article which you can sign if you like.
Regular readers will remember my post about what is it like to live without food or water in Africa? So you will know this strikes a cord with me.
Today, thousands of blogs around the world will be writing about water, our most abundant resource for life. Here’s my part:
Travelers consumption of water
It’s high, and so it should be. We move around a lot more than most people. We are out in the heat a lot more, and we often carry more around. The result, we perspire, and we need to rehydrate.
But, we are not living at home. So we cannot open a tap, and fill a glass full of clean water. We live out of hotels, hostels, guest-houses and tents. Moreover the water that comes from many countries is not consumable neat from the tap.
Drinking Water safety
Many cities and buildings have old lead pipes that can have serious health implications for a person. Many developing countries simply don’t have a sanitary water supply systems at all. So, we buy bottled water to be safe.
While the occasional scare happens, 99% of the time the water from a bottle is safe to drink. And, our stomach’s remain solid along with our journey’s. But, there is an environmental issue here.
Constantly buying new bottles of water is an easy thing to do. But just look at your hotel room bin after a day or two. There are bottles everywhere. Many countries do not have a recycling system. And, these bottles either get burned out in the open, or simply dumped along a roadside area.
This adds to pollution, which in the long run seeps into our clean water supplies around the world.
I am not going to suggest all travelers go out and buy a water filtration system like a steripen. Hard metals, chemicals and toxins will still exist after this treatment. For camping, mountain trekking and countryside traveling I think such devices are great. But for the average traveler going through many cities I believe the answer is a more proactive one.
Keep drinking bottled water!
Drink bottled water, then go visit the tourist office
If there is no recycling of water bottles in the hotel or country you are in, set an example. Take your used bottles and bring them to the tourist office before you leave. Tell them what you think of their country/city, then tell them the biggest disappointment was the lack of recycling at your hotel, or indeed in the city / town / area.
And, the lack of clean drinking water.
Tell them you will write on your blog or on big travel sites like Lonely Planet, TravelersPoint and TripAdvisor (you can also mention The Longest Way Home, and make me happy!) about their lack of facilities.
Power to make a change
The power to make a change comes through education, and these days, social pressure. In many countries without facilities, people simply don’t know about recycling. And, if the facilities are not there, they can’t do much about it.
Taking your cause to people that can start the change will, and can help.
You are a tourist, and tourist services don’t want bad press.
Examples of countries with good recycling facilities and drinking water for tourists:
Portugal and Spain, I found many recycling facilities there. Likewise many hostels had recycling bins. Unfortunately Spain’s tap water left a lot to be desired. Germany again had many facilities, and the tap water seemed okay. In some parts of Turkey I found water bottle reusable bins.
Nepal has tried to implement a system of water refill stations on trekking routes. Sadly a lack of administration has seen it falter. This is where something like a steripen will come into play rather than buying water enroute!
West Africa is surprisingly good for recycling plastic bottles. Everything is reused. Likewise in The Philippines where plastic bottles are sold to manufacturers. Sadly, the process of melting down these plastics is hazardous. But, with proper legislation can be brought to do more good than harm. Tap water here is very much no go I am afraid.
In many countries without recycling systems or clean tap water hotels, hostels etc will have a refill station. You simply refill your old water bottle with fresh water from a larger container.
It’s a local problem too
Don’t blame a local if they don’t know about recycling water bottles or clean tap water. Take a look around, maybe there are more pressing matters like a starving population etc. But, in developed countries there really is no excuse.
While recycling stations are appearing, clean tap water seems to be disappearing.
Again, take the argument to the top. And, for the tourist, that would be the tourist board. Enough people bringing in empty bottles, and they’ll soon get the picture and word will travel up the ladder.
Water flows around the world
Water is precious. We need it to survive. We need it to remain clean, and to be available for all. Ensuring that water bottles are recycled and clean tap water is desired will help not only the country we are visiting. But, in turn every country around the world. We all drink water. We are dust without it.
Surely in this day and age we can do something about ensuring that what makes up most of our bodies and this planet is clean, and available to all; as an international human right.
This is an additional article written for blog action day 2010. Please share this article with as many people as you can to raise awareness.