Today, October 15, 2010, is Blog Action Day!
FACT: Nearly 1 billion people are lacking access to clean water.
While this is not so much the case in the modern city center of Chiang Mai, where water is readily available, nearly 1 billion people lack clean water, globally. This is not just an abstract number, it is about real people’s lives. They are mothers, fathers, daughters and sons, women, children and elders alike lacking clean water. Perhaps small portions of them may be living in the rural parts of Thailand where running water is hard to come by.
Here are just some examples of astounding facts about water around the globe from Change.org.
African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink.
Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die worldwide from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions.
Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
The U.S., Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the U.S. drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled.
Water is a health issue. Water is a human rights issue. Water is a global issue.
As travelers and consumers we consume water. We consume lots of it and most of the time, in the form of PLASTIC BOTTLES. Today, I invite you to join me in thinking about ways to not only conserve, but to be more aware of our consumption habits whether we are traveling, or staying put in one place before your next travel.
Here are some everyday actions, though not perfect, we practice to reduce, reuse, recycle to be part of the solution when we can, not just on Blog Action Day, but on a daily basis.
- We use stainless steel canisters to carry our water supply when we are traveling, even locally.
- We avoid buying bottled water by boiling our own water. (Traveling through or staying for a while in Chiang Mai? Look for the refill vending machines for water that costs 1 baht for 1 litre).
- If we do have to buy bottled water, we try our best to recycle the bottle. This is not an easy task here in Chiang Mai where plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic for every occasion exists as part of the norm. It is very challenging.
- We recycle by taking recyclables to our daughter’s school where there are bins.
- When possible, we take our own containers for take-away orders rather than accepting a container and plastic bags. We have noticed that the cleaning ladies in our building usually go through the garbage bins and sort the plastic bottles, hopefully for recycling. We are not sure if this happens everywhere.
- We take our own shopping bags instead of using plastic bags provided by the vendors. (We are not plastic-free as some bags end up as trash bags!)
- We carry our own cloth napkins rather than using paper napkins.
- We also carry our own utensils instead of using disposable ones we sometimes get from vendors.
- We say NO to plastic bags and we say it often. I hope you will too every chance you can. Find creative, alternative ways to conserve.
You will find that when you are in Thailand, the locals seem to lack the concept of recycling, reusing and reducing. The amount of plastic used here seems excessive. So just because the locals are doing it doesn’t mean tourists and expats should do it too. In fact, as a tourist, you too could utilize some of the ways mentioned here to be a greener traveler regardless of where your travels take you. For the expats, this is an opportunity to find out what local resources and organizations are available and join forces. Let us continue to model greener behaviors at home, abroad and on the road no matter where we are located.
Help us spread the word. Share this post with others (as many as you can) to raise awareness about the 1 billion people who lack clean water in the world.
What actions are you taking to travel greener? I hope you will share your ideas here!