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World Water Day

This Saturday, March 22, is World Water Day, a day of awareness about the people who do not have the luxury of safe drinking water. Most of us think that such a problem can only happen in underdeveloped countries, but the recent news about pharmaceuticals in municipal drinking water in the U.S. and Europe brings the problem to your kitchen faucet. In addition, the almost daily revelations of threats to fresh water around the globe, from rivers polluted by agricultural runoff to aquifers contaminated by landfills, is sufficient motivation for each of us to try and do something about it. No part of this problem is too trivial, so give us your views — or perhaps a solution — regarding any aspect of it, big or small, from the potential contaminants in your plastic water bottle that were discussed in the last two posts, to your opinions on public water policy. What can or should be done to protect and improve our fresh water supply? What do you do to make sure your drinking water is pure? Please join our conversation on this critical topic and take a moment this World Water Day to consider what’s coming out of your faucet.

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48 comments

Comments

jane crandell says …

Reduce plastic bags going into landfills and get double use by saving dry cleaner plastic bags and stapling together hanger hole at top to seal at one end. Use bag for yard refuse (leaves and light plant debris - not sharp heavy sticks) and to line indoor waste baskets.

jane crandell says …

stop using chemical fertilizers that just enter run-off into water sheds...use composted plant debris and green sand and other natural products.

Ching says …

First of all, we have to have the committement to protect our water resources; then we have to have measurements to encourage sustained use of our water resources. We also need a strong culture on protecting and sustainable use of water resources. Everybody needs to unite behind this committement: individuals, industries, governments, local, regional, national as well as global. Laws and strict enforcement is really needed at the moment!

Linda says …

The 1st post is my main pet peeve. I get sick when I see plastic bags stuck in trees and water ways. They choke the animals. We are just killing ourselves, slowly. The wars are speeding things up but is anyone concerned about the birds and the bees? Have you noticed how low the birds are flying across the roads? We see dead birds quite often now don't remember seeing that before. And the bees, well people there goes our food supply if they die off. Does anybody care? Or do they just care about the next American Idol? or dancer. I see people open their car windows and throw bags of garbage out. I say they should be fined big time everywhere. My hint? Don't know --because there will always be slobs. I guess really cracking down on the slobs and hitting them in the wallet may help. The plastic bags are a big issue, but if we use paper that kills a lot of trees. Sure the cloth ones some of the stores are selling are a great idea. But some people can't afford to buy them. Some people have enough just buying food. Maybe the parents need to wake up and educate their kids. Or there will not be a world for them. Notice I don't say the schools, because the teachers have enough problems watching out for guns. Gee when I was a kid chewing gum was a biggie.

Amy Moore says …

One way to save water usage when washing clothes is to use a laundry detergent that rinses easily and reduces the number of rinse cycles. There are eco-friendly biodegradable detergents available that clean well in cool water and save energy

Lisa Plaisance says …

To help recycle our water usage, I water indoor and outdoor plants with the water from the cat and dog bowls. I also use the exchanged water from the fish tank for the same purpose.

brooks says …

As children in a large family, we all learned the lessons of thrift and wastelessness from our parents of the N. C. mountains. Precious water was never wasted. Possibly we have reached the point where rationing...or at least cut-off for excessive users, in housing developments especially. Pool owners would also fall into this category. Serious authority guidelines would be a welcomed wake-up call to many.

Sara Grady says …

Water at dawn to increase the effectiveness of your watering, and water deeply and only when your yard needs it to encourage strong root growth.

Tracy says …

This is very simple tip. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth, washing your hands, or shaving. Water is a precious commodity and natural resource we sometimes take for granite.

donna says …

If you don't have a low water use toilet, put a couple of bricks into the toilet bowl- it reduces water use- and the toilet still flushes. For the shower- buy a low water use shower head(they're sold for boats), your shower uses much less water and you still have a good spray.

Wendy Nelson says …

Growing up in the desert of Arizona, my mother taught my brothers and sisters and I very early the importance of water conservation. Water left in a drinking glass went a houseplant instead of down the drain. Water was kept in the fridge, no running the tap and waiting for it to get cold. The tap was turned off for brushing teeth and shaving - it was only turned on when in actually use. Rain barrels captured water for outside herb and vegetable gardening. Lanscaping was done with low water maintance in mind (rock, gravel, catci, etc). We grew up with low flow shower heads and before low flow toilets were available we had a plastic bottle in the toilet tank. Cleaning products came from the cupboard, not the cleaning aisle in the grocery store - vinegar, baking soda, toothpaste, and elbow grease. Not only are they easy on the wallet, but easy on the environment as well. The clothes washer and dishwasher would only operate when full. Now I'm raising my children with the committment to the environment. My brothers and sisters are doing to the same. I would like to see everyone make at least one change in their lifestyle than perhaps we could avoid a water crisis. But as another posted stated, the government also needs to step in with increased legislation and enforcement.

Nancy says …

Our area has been in a drought period for some time. We have been celebrating recent rainfall. Drought conditions make you realize just how precious each drop of clean waster is! Many groups sponsor clean-up activites that keep contaminants out of water sources. We all can participate in civic litter/trash clean-up days, and collection drives for hazardous waste like unused paint and used motor oil. The responsibility for clean water starts with us all individually as we set our priorities and make personal decisions!

Kelly Harris says …

Americans think the water supply is endless and see no reason to conserve water use. No other culture on earth wastes as much water as ours. Our family has made a few small steps towards water conservation. Some would find some of these suggestions gross, but they help save water and every small step we make adds u pto a more sustainable way of life. In the yard: Rather than run a sprinkler on your garden, re-use your dish rinse water. This also saves water in the kitchen because we are not running the tap to rinse the dishes. Not only will you save water, the soap (Use a pure castile soap, like Dr. Bronner's) will kill and deter many insects. We also use a layer of mulch around our outdoor plants to hold in moisture and cut down on watering. We use a broom to clear our sidewalks and driveway instead of a hose. We have adjusted our lawn mower to the highest setting, as longer grass shades the root systems and holds moisture longer. We have placed large pails under our downspouts to gather rain water to use for the lawn and plants (indoors and out). In the bathroom: Repair leaks in your faucets and toilets. A leaky faucet can waste 20 gallons or more per day. Leaky toilets, even though they are usually silent, can waste hundreds of gallons per day. To find out if your toilet has leaks, put a little food coloring in the tank. If, without flushing, color appears in the bowl, you have a leak that should be repaired. Repairing a faucet is usually as simple as changing an inexpensive washer. Leaky toilets can often be repaired by adjusting the float arm or plunger ball. Take baths not showers. Wash your hair first and you won't have to use more water to do this later. When brushing our teeth, instead of running the tap water, we fill a glass to use to rinse. Flushing the toilet uses 2 - 7 gallons of water per flush, so we keep a wastebasket near the toilet and deposit our wipe paper from urination there and only flush after bowel movements. In the kitchen: We rinse our dishes in a pan. We also rinse our vegetables and fruits in a pan, rather than under running water. As far as our drinking water, we use refillable filtered water bottles. These are good for 90 uses and cost us $6 and are recyclable after use. We only run the washing machine when we have a full load. We also cut down on loads by rewearing clothing( as long as it is still visibly clean...jeans don't get filthy in one day usually) and allotting a towel and washcloth per person per week (as long as they get hung up, they dry and don't get dirty and smelly). Also, ice cubes are a wonderful wa to water plants! They avoid overwatering and it is a great way to use up those dropped ice cubes!

Sam says …

I want to leave a water-saving hint comment as was invited in the e-mail that led me to this blog. But for a start, I'd like to say that a World Water Day is a lovely idea, especially at this point in recent developments. Let the scoffers scoff at us who get interested in protecting Earth and all it gives us--as if they have an alternative place to exist handy if we irrevocably wreck this one. Water can rightly be considered sacred. So, one of the slightly less-often heard things I do to conserve some water is to water plants, or pre-rinse pots and pans or such, with "grey water" --water that I've used to rinse produce, boil eggs, cook pasta, or leftover in a drinking glass, that sort of thing.

michelle says …

educate our childen on protecting our world and its natural resouces. they are our future. cheers happy spring

Phyllis Jenkins says …

Things my cat thought me are green things: I am reseeding my lawn to include "Vita-greens" for the cat; I'll plant some cat-nip too. Things my birds taught me are that edible berries are pretty to look as well as food for the birds so I planted bird friendly shrubs. Mantee taught me that seagrasses are multipurpose so my riverside has Hydrilla, Tapegrass, Eelgrass, Water hyacinth, Water lettuce and my oceanside has Manatee grass, Turtle grass, Shoal grass, and Widgeon grass.

Sharon says …

What a great idea to share ideas on how to conserve water. I save water when I do the dishes by stacking most of my dirty dishes into the largest dirty pot first. Then I wash and rinse the easy stuff like lids and cups over the dirty dishes so that the pot fills up with hot soapy water. When the pot is full, I leave everything in the sink for a few minutes to do something else like clear the table or put away the leftovers so that the dirty dishes in the pot soak and become easier to wash and rinse, thus using less water.

V Ohri says …

My husband and I never wash cars at home using detergents. We use only water (using a bucket and a mug) or take them to the car wash. The water collected from our streets flows into the bay and it is advised not to add any non-biodegradable substances into the street drains. Also, all my plant containers have trays to collect excess water. So, I don't have to water them everyday.

Lynda says …

When looking to a future of unpolluted water look beyond present preserving means and to the youngsters in our lives. Conservation and good sense should be conveyed to the very young. Whilst we practice ways to preserve and protect ourselves let our example and education of the young foster a renewed appreciation for this natural resource.

Melissa Herzog says …

Everytime we run the water to wait for the right temperature we have the water go into empty pitchers. We use the water for watering our plants, filling dog water bowls or even filling bottles for ourselves and putting in the frig. You have no idea how much water you waste for this time process until you fill up a pitcher and see!

katie says …

Can you please let me know which water filter is best, one that also screens out the pharmaceutals in addition to other contaminants ? I am overwhelmed with the choices and have no idea where to start ? Thanks.

Kathryn says …

When landscaping or getting ready for planting think about planting plants are common to your region. Not only will this help reduce water comsumption because the plants can handle region climate but you'll also help out animals that are common to your ecosystem too.

jerry says …

Katie, there is no easy answer to your question about which water filter is best because there are different filters for a variety of situations. The best place to begin your research is with an independent product-testing organization like Consumer Reports that is not beholden to any company for advertising revenue. There are also some forums out there--I think Yahoo! has one--where people can weigh in on such topics. Good luck... Jerry

Thad Regulinski says …

Because there are only the two of us in the household, we don't use the dishwasher. To conserve water we wash dishes by hand in one pan and rinse in side-by-side another pan . The water so used in both pans is not disposed in the drain, rather it is poured into a pail and used to flush the toilet. .

Jessica says …

An old tradition for cleansing water still applies today. -- Add an element of fire. Boiling water for tea can create a moment of peace in an otherwise hectic life. There is a beautiful selection of teas available at Whole Foods. Oolong is by far my favorite, though I'm sure everyone has their own personal scent and flavor of choice. Unfortunately boiling water will not remove heavy deposits and such. It will help kill unwelcome visitors like algae, bacteria, and other microscopic entities swirling through that clear glass of water you're holding. Anything you can do to increase water consumption would be well worth it. ;-) ~Jessica

Lynn Hatcher says …

I have a real problem with what goes down the storm drains . As I drive down the street I see all sorts of debris that will be washed into the stream , river , or lake . The next time your out Just take a good look . There are all sorts of debris . Paper ,plastic Bottles , anything some people decide to throw out there car windows . Then there’s the trash that doesn’t quiet make it into the truck when The dumpsters are emptied , the wind blows it around and it eventually Ends up in the storm drain . And the water utility says it has to flush out the lines to keep the drinking water safe. Millions and millions of gallons of water wasted . You would think they could figure a way To save at least some of it.

kristin mctague says …

I read the suggestions for saving/ utilizing water resourcefully, and one that hasn't been mentioned yet is taking a timer into the bathroom and setting it for 3 or 4 minutes. That's plenty of time to get clean, and when the timer goes off, it's TIME TO GET OUT and get on with it. Then, as you dry off, give yourself a pat on the back for saving a significant amount of water! :) (I also liked the comment about using a water-saving shower head.)

Paul E. Peelle says …

Once I have started my garden, I take a bucket into the shower with me to collect water as it falls (especially during the few seconds while waiting for the water to get warm enough to step in); using a natural, biodegradable soap, any little bit of soap that goes into the bucket is not harmful to my garden. After the shower, I take the bucket to the garden, thus saving a little bit of watering from the sprinkler.

Nancy Gardner says …

Put a pail in your shower and use the collected water to water your garden.

Nicole says …

One of the new Whole Foods in Chicago reuses the water that went down the bathroom sinks to flush its toilets! What a great invention! More retailers and homeowners need to incorporate this when they're building. No need to use completely clean water to flush our waste away!

Brent says …

I take a bit of a different approach to this question. Although I'm interested in and concerned about the sustainability and quality of the US water supply, my deeper concern is for the provision of clean drinking water to those in need in developing countries. For the nearly 1 billion people lacking access to clean water worldwide, this is a daily issue. So...what am I doing to make an impact. I've helped found Thirst Relief International (www.thirstrelief.org) a 501(c)(3) organization focused on drilling wells, repairing hand pumps and manufacturing bio-sand filters capable of providing clean, sustainable drinking water. We've been around for 2 years and are operated by a 100% volunteer staff. In year 1, we provided clean water to 6,000 people. In year 2, we provided clean water to 28,000 people. With current projects and full funding in 2008, we'll be able to provide clean water to 800,000 people. Check out our website and think about how you can make a difference on World Water Day and beyond!

Amy Esposito says …

As a resident of Torrance here in the South Bay, I was dismayed to find out that the DWP, whom Torrance purchases their water from, started adding fluoride to our drinking this past fall. This is hugely controversial substance is touted as a prevention for tooth decay. I would like to see Whole Foods involved in bringing attention to this mass medication of cities and municipalities across the United States. Most of Europe bans the substance being put in their water. This substance they use is a hazardous waste by product being produced by chemical fertilizer and aluminum manufacturers. How did this happen? How did we allow this, Whole Foods please help uncover this truly insane practice of dumping wastes into our water supply.

Julia Liu says …

What a great topic! When I wash my vegetables, instead of using a colander, I use a mixing bowl and fill it with just enough water to cover the vegetables. Then I swish the vegetables around. All the dirt falls down to the bottom of the bowl. After I remove the vegetables from the mixing bowl, I use the water that is left to water houseplants or plants in my garden. Once, after washing the vegetables, I left the bowl of water on the counter as I was cooking at the stove. My well-meaning husband came along, and started to empty the water into the sink, in order to help with clean up. I heard my three-year-old daughter shout, "Dad, don't throw that away! That's for watering the plants!" I agree with the previous posts that educating our children is as important as what we ourselves do on a daily basis when it comes to protecting our water supply.

Jessica says …

Low-flush toilets are designed to use less water and be good for the environment, but a lot of people undo that by flushing twice. I've found that it's easy to flush materials by just flushing once, all you have to do is hold down the handle until all materials pass through. Another option is always to "let it mellow if it's yellow, flush it down if it's brown."

Celena says …

My 4th grade teaching team wanted to get the message across to our students about how underground water gets contaminated. We did an experiment--we took an empty Liter bottle and cut the top off. Then we layered pebbles, sand, and topsoil to represent the layers of the Earth. We placed the bottle in a pan with a paper towel in it to act as the recharge zone of an aquifer. Next we sprinkled a red Kool-Aid packet on the topsoil to mimic pollution (ex. someone pouring their car oil out in their lawn) We then misted the topsoil with a spray bottle. They were amazed at how much the Kool-Aid affected all the layers and that it went through to the "aquifer", not as a pale pink like most of them thought--but bright red. They all went home and shared the information with their families along with ways to correctly and safely dispose of hazardous materials. The school I teach at is very rural and most families have a well that supplies their drinking water, so they have really become advocates for protecting their water source.

Carrie says …

Awareness is number one in preserving and being able to enjoy fresh, clean water. I was mortified to find out that much medicine goes in people's toilets to affect our drinking water. I actually have never considered putting medicine down a toilet or any drain for that matter. Awareness is important so people know to stop doing this and for community's and pharmacy's to either recycle or destroy. Also, the same goes for the recent news on the disposal of the fluorescent light bulbs that have mercury and if and when they are broken in the landfills, how all this mercury will hurt us in our drinking water, everything from landfills eventually leeches into our water supply. Be extra careful with these bulbs, place them in a nonbreakable/noncrushable container when you do dispose of them or take them to one of very few places in the country that accepts them. I drink a majority of my water from a well, so I have an organic, green friendly yard free of pesticides and other killers. Plus, any runoff from my yard goes directly in the pond in front of me and the lake in back of me. So, I feel I have to not only protect me but all of the critters, fishes, and wildlife. Awareness is so very important to the ones that do not have fresh drinking water because that is the first step to getting something done about it. Do what you can to help mankind. How long can you go until you thirst for fresh water? Help others and enjoy what you have. So long, C

charlene seckler says …

I use a salad spinner to wash my lettuce and greens. I fill it up with water, let the greens swoosh around a little and then I take that water out to my patio and dump it on my container plants instead of down the drain. When there are no container plants, I dump it on the lawn. I am always surprised at how much water it takes to wash my veggies, but the fact that the water is getting re-used makes a big difference.

Candace says …

We take it for granted, like the sun--but given the scarcity in so much of the world--we should think about this viewpoint. Or, like my husband go to taking 'Navy showers' where he turns off the water while soaping etc. Minimizing the water he uses, even there.

JD Paes says …

As a Tucson resident, water is a pretty important resource. Some easy ways I conserve water is by turning off the faucet when lathering my hands when I wash them. Similarly, doing the same thing in the shower while lathering your hair and body saves a lot of water. For this I have a special low-flow shower head that can shut off water at the head and not at the knobs, so I dont have to waste any water trying to get the right temperature back. I bought it at a hardware store for about $5 and it works great. Also, when I have the opportunity, I use the water-free urinals instead of the flushing ones (the signs say each one saves 40,000 gallons per year).

Jennifer Badde-Graves says …

As an American living in post-war Germany, I learned much about water conservation, one of them being the "outlandish" idea of bathing only once a week. It is possible. It took me several months to adopt into the routine, but I've been practicing this for years now. Otherwise, I look for ways to collect running water that then can be used later to water plants in the garden or indoor pots. This collected water can also be useful for handwashing and/or soaking silks and other delicate laundry items. Number one big water waster on my list (after I'd put a weighted gallon plastic jug in my toilet tank--I don't recommend bricks, because they leach their minerals) is the water going down the drain while waiting for warm water to appear at the hot water faucet, in the kitchen, bathroom sink or tub. So I collect that water with one of those plastic ice cream tubs--they fit nicely in the sink and the size is just right (about 3-4 qts.) for the amount of water that needs to run before you get to warm. (I got my plastic ice cream tub from a local cafe that keeps ice cream on hand for desserts and coffee drinks.) Another place to collect water is from an outdoor faucet when washing off hands or pots and tools with just water. This collected water really adds up fast!

Henrik Pelsen says …

Hi There To get rid of waste and plastic in nature you can use a recycle system. All shops selling water in bottles should have a system were you pay $0.25 per bottle in deposit. You can make amount higher or lower depending on bottle size. When you then deliver back your bottle you will get the same amount back as you have deposited. It is working in a large scale in Denmark and other countries in Europe - so why not in your State.

chris says …

SAVE WATER CREATE MORE TRASH???? I'm troubled by a sign that i read in the Durham Whole Foods Market that read... "Due to the drought in Durham we are now ONLY offering disposable dishware and plasticware to limit dishwasher use." I'm not sure this send the right message. Chris H.

Peter LaTorre says …

I suggest checking the CC&Rs of your neighborhood homeowners association. Mine actually mandates that a certain percentage of the front yard MUST be in lawn. As we all know, lawns need a LOT of water. If not for that rule, my front yard would be decorative rock and herbs - using far less water than now. So far, no luck in getting the homeowners association to change.

Susan says …

Thank you for this helpful collaboration. I practice the greater portion of the recommendations above and I do a couple of things that I haven't seen written about up to now. 1) Long before I use it, I dilute my shampoo, hand soap, dishwashing soap, and general purpose cleaning soap in bottles. 2) When I step into the shower I do not turn on the water. I lather up my hair with the diluted soap. There is no need to wet my hair first. The soap being diluted rinses quickly & easily. 3) I lather once. I learned that when I worked for a well-known cosmetics company. 4) When I wash my hands, neither my husband nor I wet our hands before lathering. The soap is greatly diluted so there is no need to and the watered-down soap still works great in my hand pump dispenser. 5) I cannot change my husband's habits as easily as I can mine, but by greatly diluting the dishwashing soap in the bottle, when he squirts soap into a bowl or a glass and leaves it sitting in the sink for me to take care of (which he frequently does), it is a much smaller amount than it would have been. 6) I live in an apartment and I do not compost; still, I do not use my garbage disposal. Instead, I put my grease, food scrapes, etc. in containers in the freezer and take out the "freezer trash" with the regular trash. 7) Also, I am researching creating a hydroponic garden in my one-bedroom apartment which uses less water than a dirt garden. I am interested in growing jalapenos, strawberries, tomatoes, okra, greens, lemons, etc. I would love to hear from experienced "limited-space" hydroponic farmers. It is good to read different ways I can conserve water -- there is room for improvement. I agree with most of what's been said. Don't remember anything I didn't agree with, which is always pleasant. Have a lovely day, all!

Shawn E. says …

The best home water conservation product I've found is the Hot Water Lobster Instant Hot Water Valve! It's a recirculation system that uses my existing plumbing! It saves me a lot of time and water by not waiting for hot water! I installed the temperature adjustable recirculation valve under the sink farthest form my water heater and now I have instant hot water throughout my entire home. I’ve had it for almost 3 years and it still works perfectly! It’s pump free so it creates no noise. The pumps I've had in the past have been noisy, not to mention I went through 2 of them in 3 years! The Hot Water Lobster is made in the U.S.A. and has a 10-year warranty! I installed it myself in 10 minutes! I bought it from their sit for only $179.95! I've saved that much already! Here's their site: http://www.hotwaterlobster.com/

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Marcus says …

Interesting blog, I would suggest that wholefoods market partner with companies like allbiodegradables: http://allbiodegradables.com/index.php?main_page=page&amp;id=1 this would be great if your company sold their products as an option to your customers that are looking for biodegradable PlasticWare options.

says …

@Marcus Thank you for suggesting that Whole Foods Market partner with All Biodegradables. Because much of the company’s product sourcing is done locally and regionally, I would encourage you to reach out to your local store directly with your request. This flexibility allows every one of our stores to best serve the needs and requests of local shoppers. I've included a link to the store search page below where you will be able to find the contact information for your store. http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/