Written by Denise Deby.
Today is World Water Day, a reminder that water is central to life.
The choices we humans make—the water we drink, the food we eat, the products we consume, even the way we vote—all have consequences for water and the earth.
Here are some ways to make a difference, starting today:
1. Get to know the water around you. Visit one of the city’s rivers. (Did you know that the Ottawa River, the city’s main drinking water source and an important recreation site, is home to more than 300 bird and hundreds of other species?) Learn more about Ottawa’s water and sewage systems and how you can help reduce run-off and sewage overflows (at home, and through the Ottawa River Action Plan).
2. Use environmentally friendly household products. (Did you know that you can make your own cleaning solutions using vinegar or baking soda?) Avoid household and personal care items that contain toxic components such as triclosan, found in some cosmetics and toothpastes, for example. Keep harmful substances from going down the drain and getting into the water system.
3. Check the “water footprint” of commonly-used household items with the help of Ecoholic Adria Vasil and journalist Stephen Leahy’s Your Water Footprint. (Did you know that it takes 400,000 litres of water to make a car, and more than 15,000 litres to produce 1 kg of beef?) Buy secondhand and recycle whenever possible.
4. Speak up about how water is managed, and how industry is allowed to use water:
- Participate in the Council of Canadians’ #Pledge2Protect initiative asking the federal government to protect Canadian waterways (take a photo of a lake or river no longer protected by law and send it to your MP, tweet or post it on Facebook).
- Learn more about the proposed Energy East pipeline through Ottawa and the risks to water from oil spills and from expanding tar sands production.
- Sign a petition to eliminate microbeads—tiny plastic beads found in personal care products that are showing up in the Great Lakes and other waterways—in Ontario.
- Check http://environmentaldefence.ca/take-action for other water-friendly actions.
5. Learn more about the right to water and how to ensure that everyone has access to safe water and sanitation.
(Here’s more about World Water Day and Canadian Water Week.)