I am often irritated by the west’s obsession with bottled water. Particularly because we are consuming it in places where potable water is readily available from the tap. Not only is it bad for the environment with all the plastic and shipping that is involved, but it is also yet another example of people falling for a marketing ploy. Read the labels on much of it, and it comes from, wait for it, the same municipal water supply as your tap water!
We take for granted the privilege of safe drinking water right from the tap, a privilege that millions around the world don’t share. In fact, lack of clean drinking water is the second largest worldwide killer of children under five with more than 5,000 children dying each day from water-borne diseases. And lack of sanitation, in general, poses a whole host of other issues, from disease to higher likelihood of dropping out of school.
So I was excited when I read about the Tap Project, a project of UNICEF. The Tap Project, started last year in New York City, celebrates the availability of clean drinking water to millions while helping to raise funds to provide safe drinking water for people around the world that don’t have that access. Participation is simple. Starting March 16th and running until World Water Day on March 22nd, dine at a restaurant that is participating in the Tap Project. You will be invited to forego the bottled water and donate a minimum of $1 for the tap water you would normally get for free. You can also volunteer to help recruit more restaurants in the participating cities.
Every dollar raised, provides a child with clean drinking water for 40 days. In fact, according to UNICEF, each dollar spent on water and sanitation projects has a 300% to 400% return on investment. Through UNICEF’s efforts, more than 1.2 billion people gained access to improved drinking water between 1990 – 2004, but there is still more to do. UNICEF has an aggressive goal of reducing the number of people without basic sanitation and safe water by 50% by 2015. So check out the list of participating restaurants, go eat at one of them between March 16th and March 22nd, and plan on skipping the bottled water. Contribute the dollar and while you’re drinking your tap water, think about how lucky you are to live in a place with safe, easily accessible water.
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