We are lucky here in the south-west: adequate supplies of fresh, clean water are something that most of us take for granted. Similarly, our stretches of clean beaches and sea water, that are safe for bathing, are a luxury that we forget how fortunate we are to have access to. Sadly, the same can’t be said for billions of other people around the globe. With World Water Day tomorrow, on March 22nd, it’s a sobering thought to realise that 2.1 billion people live without water that’s safe for drinking in their homes. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population experience significant water shortages for at least one month of the year!
In addition to water scarcity due to insufficient infrastructure or inadequate rain, the problem of water pollution is also one that’s impacting on access to clean, safe drinking water. Whether it’s pollution from sewage, plastic or other contaminants, waste that’s disposed of irresponsibly is having an impact on water quality and adversely affecting the plants and animals that live in our rivers and seas.
Luckily, awareness of the problems affecting the purity of the water on our planet is growing, with many initiatives now taking place with the aim of reducing the number of people who are living in water poverty, as well as putting in place measures to protect our marine wildlife and help to keep our coastal ecosystems thriving. If you want to be part of the solution to the problems which contaminated or scarce water can create, there are lots of things you can do. The World Water Day site has some great ideas. Alternatively, why not take a look at some of the suggestions below for ways that you and your family can help ensure our world’s water remains in top condition and gets to those who need it.
Take part in a beach clean-up
From simply taking a carrier bag with you next time you hit the beach and filling it with cans, plastic or other litter you find, through to taking part in a range of local, national and even international beach clean-up projects, there are plenty of choices when it comes to helping keep our tidal zones clean. Suitable for all the family to take part in, events such as the next Surfers Against Sewerage (SAS) Big Spring Beach Clean (6th - 14th April 2019) (https://www.sas.org.uk/our-work/beach-cleans/big-spring-beach-clean/) or one of the National Trust’s clean ups (https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/pitch-in-with-a-beach-clean) are the perfect opportunity to help reduce water pollution at the same time as enjoying a great day out on one of our beautiful local beaches.
Care for our rivers
Without our rivers, there wouldn’t be any sea! An essential part of the water cycle, our local rivers matter. If you feel the same, you may want to take a look at some of the suggestions the Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) (http://wrt.org.uk/) has for looking after your nearest river. With a south-west focus, WRT has some helpful suggestions for things almost anyone can do to help their local river’s ecosystem to flourish. From creating a rain garden through to tree planting ideas, there are plenty of options that would make rewarding outdoor family projects.
Raise money for a water charity
We are lucky to have beautiful beaches and fresh water to enjoy: others are not so fortunate. From WaterAidUK (https://www.wateraid.org/uk) to Digdeep (https://www.digdeep.org.uk/), Oxfam (https://www.oxfam.org.uk/) and more, there are dozens of charities which work to provide people around the world with access to clean water. Many of them hold specific fundraising events, or are grateful for donations from sponsored events of all types. Why not have a wardrobe clear-out and donate your unwanted clothes to Oxfam or a similar charity? A great way of gaining some additional space at the same time as providing a potential source of funds for a water charity.
Reduce your use of plastic
Unfortunately, much of the plastic which we use every day isn’t recyclable. After use, it frequently ends up in our seas and oceans, creating a polluted environment for marine wildlife which can lead to death and injury for sea creatures. There may also be longer-term dangers for sea dwellers associated with high concentrations of the chemicals from plastic leaching into the water. A good way to make a direct impact on plastic levels in the ocean is simply to use less of it! Check out Greenpeace’s list of ways to reduce plastic consumption (https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/9-ways-reduce-plastic-use/) or get some inspiration for a plastic free lifestyle from MyPlasticFreeLife (https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/).
We will be celebrating World Water Day alongside you, taking the opportunity to reflect on how we can become more environmentally friendly and “water aware”. Let us know how you get on with some of the options we’ve listed above – we look forward to hearing about your water-friendly projects and activities!