Water is a limited resource: here's how to save and stop wasting it

The earth's surface is 70% covered by water, but most of this is salty or unsuitable for human consumption: less than 1% of the total is suitable for use. Quite a modest portion, considering that it is the basic element of every form of life. 

Water is a very important yet limited resource, increasingly endangered by pollution, overuse, physical changes in water habitats and climate change. In particular, changing climate conditions and the growing demand for water from various production sectors are among the main factors underlying water stress, leading to a deterioration in both quantity (over-exploitation, drought) and quality (pollution, eutrophication) of available water.

This situation is alarming for Europe (where water stress affects more than 100 million people1, with the Mediterranean basin identified as one of the hotspots most exposed to the risk of reduction in available water resources), but above all for poorest countries, whose inhabitants often live in areas where water scarcity is considered to be high to extreme. A sadly emblematic figure, reported in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, clearly portrays the situation: “Every day around 1000 children die of preventable diarrheal diseases associated with water and hygiene”.

A few tips on saving water
Water is a precious asset that must be protected and respected. But what can we do to preserve water every day? Here are a few suggestions:

Don't waste water at home by keeping an eye out for leaks from pipes and taps; turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or soaping in the shower; making sure you always wash a full load in your washing machine and dishwasher; watering plants and flowers in the evening, especially in summer, to avoid the rapid evaporation of the water used.

Use less electricity: power plants use thousands of liters of water for cooling purposes: by saving electricity, therefore, you are indirectly saving water.

At mealtimes, swap food that is less beneficial for your health and the environment with more sustainable food.

Reduce food waste. 12-15% of total global water consumption is attributable to food waste, i.e. the water used to produce food that is subsequently thrown away without being eaten. Around three quarters of water lost due to food waste is associated with wasted cereals, fruit and vegetables . By reducing waste, you can therefore lessen the pressure on natural resources (including water) used in the food production cycle. 

These are small but fundamental actions which, while not requiring great efforts, can help us make a difference and achieve important results all together. 

2  Mekonnen, M. M., & Gerbens-Leenes, W. (2020). The water footprint of global food production. Water, 12(10), 2696.