For many of us, clean water is so plentiful and readily available that we rarely, if ever, pause to consider what life would be like without it. – Marcus Samuelsson

Today, March 22 is World Water Day, a day designated by the United Nations to bring attention of the importance of water. Today, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water affecting their health, wellbeing, education and livelihoods. Water is life and in my opinion access to safe water is a basic human right. Water is so critical to life and wellbeing that it was added by the UN as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) which commits the world to ensuring that everyone has access to safe water by 2030, and includes measures to protect the natural environment and reduce pollution.

In my work, I’ve had several opportunities to write about water and have recently witnessed firsthand the impact of brining safe water to communities during a trip to Western Kenya last month with LifeStraw.

In light of this important day, I wanted to share with you a few shocking facts about the lack of safe water around the world, ways that single use plastic water bottles are threatening our planet and ideas on how you can help. Please feel free to share this post and help spread awareness of this critical issue.

LifeStraw1million Campaign Kenya

Demonstrating washing hands with safe water

LifeStraw1million Campaign Kenya

Trying out the LifeStraw Community Filter

LifeStraw1million Campaign Kenya

The youngest child at the school, age 3, takes her first sip of safe water

Did you know….

World population impacted by unsafe water: 

  • Globally, 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services. By 2050, the world’s population will have grown by an estimated 2 billion people and global water demand could be up to 30% higher than today. (UNESCO-United Nations World Water Development Report 2018)
  • Today, around 1.9 billion people live in potentially severely water-scarce areas. By 2050, this could increase to around 3 billion people.
  • 2.5 million children miss school every day around the world due to waterborne illness
  • 29 percent of the global population (2.1 billion people), and 42 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa, lack access to safe drinking water services. (UN)

LifeStraw

Carrying a 20 L Jerrycan of water on your head isn’t easy

In the US: The total U.S. population that has at some point been impacted by unsafe water: 

  • As many as 63 million people — nearly a fifth of the United States — from rural central California to the boroughs of New York City, were exposed to potentially unsafe water more than once during the past decade, according to a News21 investigation of 680,000 water quality and monitoring violations from the Environmental Protection Agency (USA Today).

The Problem with Plastic:

According to the Container Recycling Institute, 100.7 billion plastic beverage bottles were sold in the U.S. in 2014, or 315 bottles per person (Plastic Oceans).

The Economic Cost of Plastic:

Americans spend $16 billion on bottled water each year (Beverage Marketing Corp.).

The Enviormental Cost of Plastic:  

Plastics are estimated to represent almost 80% of the total marine debris floating in the world’s oceans. On average, 46,000 pieces of plastic are swirling in each square mile of our oceans. Fish in the middle depths of the northern pacific ocean are ingesting as much as 24,000 tons of plastic each year. 267 species around the world are harmed by plastic. 86% of sea turtles, 44% of seabirds and 43% of ocean mammals ingest or become tangled in plastic. Every year, at least one million sea birds and 100,000 sharks, turtles, dolphins and whales die from eating plastic.

Kakamega Rainforest, Kakamega, Kenya

Want to make a difference? You can save the planet and also save lives by purchasing and using a LifeStraw.

You can save the environment by not buying single-use plastic water bottles and instead purchase and use one of LifeStraw’s amazing products. Each retail purchase of a LifeStraw product provides safe water for a child in need for one year. Imagine the impact!

The LifeStraw Go is an easy to use, highly effective and fast water purification system that can easily be packed inside a bag or suitcase. How does it work? Easy. Simply fill the container (available in plastic or stainless steel) with water from any source (untreated tap water, rivers, lakes and even toilet water works but is not recommended!) and you can instantly and safely enjoy drinking safe water by sipping it through the straw. The LifeStraw purifies 99.9% of harmful bacteria making untreated water safe to drink.

LifeStraw Follow the Liters

LifeStaw Go Consumer Products

How does LifeStraw Give Back?

In 2014, LifeStraw launched the “Follow the Liters Program”. Under this program, a portion of the proceeds of consumer sales for any LifeStraw product anywhere in the world, goes toward the purchase of LifeStraw Community purifiers which are distributed to schools in developing communities. As a result, each consumer purchase provides one school child in a developing community with safe water for an entire school year.

This is a comprehensive program implemented by the company including training, education and follow-up. LifeStraw makes a minimum five-year commitment for every school they work with to ensure sustainability of the program. LifeStraw water filters and purifiers help prevent waterborne diseases in 64 countries around the world and as of the end of February, the campaign reached the 1 millionth school child. I was thrilled to be a part of this campaign!

LifeStraw Follow the Liters

Photo credit: LifeStraw

Here are some photos from my trip to Kenya with LifeStraw. By the end of the week, we had reached our goal and it was a monumental feeling to know that now 1,015,652 kids at 1,621 schools now have safe water. Over 10,677 LifeStraw Communities are now out in the field and there are still many more schools waiting. Best of all, is the campaign is far from over.

Water is life. 

To read more on my trip with LifeStraw, click here

Want to learn more and get involved? Visit www.worldwaterday.org 

From today until March 24th, you can receive a 25% discount off on your purchase of any LifeStraw product by entering this code: NMWWD25. Each purchase supports a child with safe water for a year!

To purchase, visit shop.lifestraw.com.

22 comments

  1. Bravo!!! Your focus on portable water, and the lack thereof, comes at the intersection of policy, advocacy, NGO action on the ground and product innovation. As eco entrepreneurs (we started a bamboo housing industry for low cost housing/ post disaster reconstruction in Nicaragua where we encountered water borne issues in many towns in the North of the country) we appreciate the organizational challenge in getting a water purification system out there. The five year commitment on behalf of the schools by LifeStraw is solid community integration thinking. Very impressive!!

    In Sri Lanka where we now live, there is a high incidence of kidney failure due to the combination of pesticides in the soil and lack of clean drinking water.

    The facts you have gathered are beyond shocking. It is high time we all start to adapt to the new climate reality. It starts with consciousness and education and practical solutions such as this one. I for one, will definitely order one as I want to support companies like this with a high environmental consciousness and a sound practice of integrating social and environmental impact.

    Congratulations on being part of such a wonderful and inspiring and timely solution. And remarkable achievement of how many children’s lives are being impacted already. Keep up the good work!

    Peta & Ben

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment! Yes, portable water is the key to the future. It saddens me greatly how much incredible waste plastic water bottles bring! There are so many other ways. Thanks for telling me too about your work in Nicaragua. the only way we can save our planet and the future is by finding more sustainable solutions. Thanks Peta and Ben for your support!

    1. Thank you so incredibly much Peta! Again, your support and thoughtful comments have been much appreciated! Nicole

  2. Even though I am well-versed in these facts due to my husband’s work in this area, it is still shocking to read the statistics. Even more shocking is the fact that educated, well-informed people continue to buy, use, and then discard plastic water bottles. We have not used them for years, but I watch my family and friends thoughtlessly consume their water this way. This may be my next job: gently prodding people I know to make some changes.

    Meanwhile, a question about the Life Straw bottles: how do you clean the straw? I am going to buy one here and now with your code, and I’ll look for that info on their website, but one of the problems I’ve had with my own reusable bottles is the gunk that gradually builds up in the straw systems. I do clean them religiously, and I even replace parts of the straw, but it seems like a brisk scrubbing of the filtering system of the Life Straw might compromise it. Anyway, I will buy one this minute, and thanks for educating more people on the problem!

    1. Interesting Lexi! As for the LifeStraw I’m not sure. You may want to email them about it. I never clean the straw and I’m not sure you should. Apparently when it completely stops working then it is time to be replaced yet that should take a while.

  3. Hello Nicole,

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautifully written, very informative post 🙂

    I missed many a great posts from you over last year due to my unexpected hiatus from blogging.

    Two days back, we organized a class on the occasion of world water day and discussed what all we could do it change our mindset and treat water bodies and water itself more respectfully.

    I am part of a volunteer organization (KSSP, a people’s science movement) and we are planning to run a campaign to educate people on water conservation.

    Had I read this post a couple of days back I could have used the information shared by you during the talk.

    I have shared your post in facebook and thanks again for the wonderful work you are doing…

    Sreejith.

  4. Inspiring and informative as always Nicole. I loved your Costa Rica post as well but I noticed that my comment disappeared after I posted it. Perhaps check your spam mail Nicole.

  5. Beautifully written and informative post, Nicole. I am awed by the number of people LifeStraw has helped in water compromised places. For those of us who are lucky enough to have clean running water (I drink from reusable bottles), do you still use LifeStraw or do you mean that the purchase of one helps others in need through the company? Thanks again for all the important work that you do and for educating us about your efforts.

    1. Thank you so much for reading this post Jane! It means a lot. As for the LifeStraw, I only use it when I am either hiking (you can dump it in the lake or a river to get the water and it is safe to drink through the straw) or the biggest one now is when I travel to countries where the tap water isn’t safe. Then you can bring the Lifestraw and drink right out of the sink without having to keep using plastic water bottles. It is amazing. Yes, one purchase of a LifeStraw goes to support the program in Kenya. 🙂

  6. Bravo to you again Nicole for your work in helping to bring clean drinking water to the children of Western Kenya. That third photo you posted touches my heart each time I look at it. To see that young child taking her first sip of clean water, and the faces of the other children looking on, is so very touching. A LifeStraw bottle will be my first purchase when we return to the states.

  7. Nothing more important or meaningful than making sure mother’s and their children get clean water ~ one of the greatest things 1st world countries simply cannot relate. Love the 3rd photo ~ simply priceless.

    1. Yes indeed! The more I travel the more I scratch my head at why so many people around the world have so little. It is crazy to just turn on the faucet and get clean water while so many could never ever imagine that gift. Thanks for the comments!

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