choice of futures

Dear Readers, this blog is mostly on hiatus, but for World Water Day today, I wanted to share a few tidbits I’ve been collecting – good news and bad news alike. So enjoy a nice tall drink of water, cultivate gratitude, and then see what you can do to protect the clean waters of the Earth, no matter which corner of it you call home.

Garbage Patch 3x the Size of France

We are dumping inordinate amounts of plastic waste into our oceans daily, and with 7 billion of us, it’s really adding up. A new study found that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now three times the size of continental France, and it’s mostly made up of large plastic objects.

The good news is that this study was done by a company called Ocean Cleanup, which is developing technology to remove the plastic from our oceans in an energy-efficient way, using natural currents in the ocean.

What will happen to all the plastic (enough to cover France several meters deep, I guess) once we get it out of the ocean though? It seems that the least we can do is to stop using plastic right now, to whatever extent possible. I recently saw a documentary called Plastic China about a young girl and her family who live in a household-recycling workshop, surrounded night and day by disgusting plastic waste from around the world. I’ve drastically cut the amount of food I buy in plastic containers since then (no more yogurt!), but it takes so much planning to go totally waste free that I’m not quite there yet.

Which City Will Be the First to Run Out of Water?

Cape Town, South Africa is struggling mightily with water supply for its nearly 4 million residents as it faces a historic drought. The “day zero” when tap water will be shut off has been pushed back from April to July and possibly beyond, but the situation is not good. A friend of mine sent this picture of how they reuse water in her household to comply with the water-rationing rules. If someone treats themselves to a shower, they catch as much water as possible for toilet-flushing.

Water rationing leads to graywater systems in Cape Town

It is a shame that the region has not implemented composting toilets or other ways of drastically reducing water use on a systemic level before things reached this crisis point. Even more upsetting is the fact that a great group calling themselves the Camissa Water Project have tried for years to get the government to redesign infrastructure that had mountain spring water running through sewers into the sea. But they didn’t listen. These days, the remnants of this group are attending the World Water Forum in Brazil, connecting with others who represent indigenous knowledge from around the world.

Perhaps Cape Town’s experience can be a lesson for Arizona and other areas that are living on borrowed time.

water sources in Arizona

Only 3% reclaimed? This is bad, Arizona. The Colorado River has nearly run dry, and people upstream from you depend on it, too. You are not taking the problem seriously. Golf courses must be required to use *only* reclaimed water. Compost collection should be done in all cities and used to build soils that will retain more moisture. And the flushing of 10 gallons of drinking water per person down our toilets every day must stop, too.

As we brace for a spring season of endless rain both in Budapest and Seattle, I feel thankful that I’m not battling drought in my own backyard. But I can still do my part to spread awareness of the importance of water and how we can all work together to protect it. Happy World Water Day!

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