The Facts About Water – Part One

2
2030

 “Water is life’s mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi 

Water is one of the world’s most valuable resources.

Without even realising it, we constantly use it. We drink from it, we wash with it, we cook with it, our food grows in it. Heck, our bodies are even made from it.

It’s safe to say that water is our most precious lifeline. It’s essential to our survival, to our planet, and to our everyday lives. But, all too often – especially in the Western world – we take it for granted.

Living in such a wet and soggy climate like the UK, it’s easy to think that we don’t have to worry about water and water wastage. But, actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

An Amazing Thought

As the National Geographic was quoted as saying, “All the water that will ever be is right now.” I mean, just stop and think about it – we have our lot, there will be no more.

Yet, despite this, we waste it. Astonishingly, the Energy Savings Trust (EST) revealed that the UK wastes £68m each year simply by overfilling the kettle. We waste a further £215m by spending too long in the shower.

Staggering how much we take it for granted, isn’t it? Particularly when you consider that in many parts of the world such as Africa and the Philippines, women have to trek for miles  to try to find safe, clean water. Thankfully due to Lucy Bee’s Fair Trade contribution, this situation is somewhat alleviated for the coconut oil producers in Mindanao, with the construction of two wells giving villagers easy access to fresh, safe water.

The local priest blesses the new well at Barangay Concepcion, Philippines
The local priest blesses the new well at Barangay Concepcion, Philippines

So, if like most people, you do take water for granted, just take a moment to read on. We’re here to teach you all about just how precious this everyday commodity is – quite simply, without it, we wouldn’t be here.

Why Do We Need Water?

“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.”

Jacques Cousteau

Quite simply, water is key to our survival; we could only live a matter of days without it.

You see, since water makes up between 50 and 75% of an adult’s total body weight (we know, right? That’s huge!), regular top-ups are needed to balance the loss of water from the body in the form of urine and sweat. In fact, we tend to feel thirsty when we have lost just 2% of our body’s water.

Without consuming enough, we put our bodies at risk of dehydration, meaning headaches, tiredness and a loss of concentration will follow. In extreme cases, dehydration can lead to constipation and, in the long-term, kidney stones, or even death.

How to Avoid Dehydration

To fight this, it’s crucial that we drink up plenty throughout the day. In fact, the British Dietetic Association states that we should knock back 2.5 litres a day (or roughly 10 glasses) to keep our bodies in tip top condition.

8 Glasses Of Water A Day

However, we all know that humans aren’t the only ones to need water – it’s crucial to our planet and the species around us too. In fact, about 70% of the earth’s surface (that’s a crazy 326 million trillion gallons!) is made up of water.

Where Does Our Water Come From?

However, this water doesn’t just appear from nowhere. We can’t rub a magic lamp and make it simply appear. Nope, instead, this water is in a constant cycle — it evaporates from the ocean, travels through the air, rains down on the land and then flows back to the ocean.

As if that weren’t bad enough, consider this: 98% of the water on the planet is in the oceans, making it unsafe for drinking because of the salt.

What Do We Use It For?

“Children of a culture born in a water-rich environment, we have never really learned how important water is to us. We understand it, but we do not respect it.”

William Ashworth

Seems a silly question, doesn’t it? But we bet if you stopped to think about it, you wouldn’t even realise half the time you were actually using (or wasting) water.

The average person in England and Wales uses 150 litres. Staggering, isn’t it? Yet, by   2020, it’s thought that the demand for water could increase by 800 million extra litres of water a day.

For most of us, the majority of our water usage goes on washing, or toilet flushing. Of course, water is also used for drinking, cooking, car washing and watering the garden.

Thanks to the era of power showers and fancy household items (yep, as glamorous as freestanding baths are, they’re not the most environmentally-friendly of trends!), it’s thought we use almost 50 per cent more water than 25 years ago.

Power Shower

Of course, it’s easy to bury our heads in the sand – after all, what effect can one person’s water consumption really have on the world? Yet, it really does affect the planet – and you’d better believe it. In fact, using water in our homes contributes to around 35 million tonnes of greenhouse gases1 a year.

Still not bothered? Well, experts think that in the UK alone, we could save £600m on energy bills each year by taking three simple steps to curb their water use – washing clothes at 30 degrees celcius, only boiling the right amount of water when making a cup of tea, and spending less time in the shower.

Now we’re talking money, we bet that got your attention, right?

Water: the Different Types

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”

Loran Eisely

Incredibly, there are many, many different types of water out there. From fresh water and hard water (which is saturated with inorganic minerals and found in lakes, rivers, on the ground and in deep wells) to soft water (water which doesn’t contain mineral salts) and raw water, the earth is covered with liquids of varying types.

River

For our needs, though, there are just a few types you need to worry about. So, what are these, and what should you be drinking?

Natural Mineral Water

Natural mineral water has to come from an officially-recognised source that is protected from contamination. In fact, only water that has been tested for purity (passing over around 200 tests) can call itself “natural mineral water”.

Not only this, but the water must also be bottled directly at its place of origin.

So, what are the benefits to you? As the name suggests, mineral water not only hydrates the body, but it also supplies us with minerals as well (although what these are depends on the origin). Chemical nasties and other types of water cannot be added to natural mineral water, meaning it’s as pure as pure can be.

Spring Water

As with Natural Mineral Water, spring water must come from an officially-recognised source and be bottled on site. However, it doesn’t have to go through such an intense testing period and doesn’t contain any specific minerals. 

Spring Water Bottled

Bottled or Table Water

Amazingly, table water isn’t necessarily of natural origin and can come from a range of sources. In fact, even some of the best-known brands are can simply be reprocessed tap water. Bottled varieties labeled as ‘purified’ are in fact tap waters which have simply gone through extra processing – such as reverse osmosis2  which is a water purifying technique. 

Tap Water

While we’re lucky enough in the UK to have tap water that’s safe to drink (think of all the countries that don’t have such a privilege and feel suitably chastened), tap water is usually not a natural product. It has often been heavily filtered and treated with chemicals to reduce potential parasites and other nasties. However, the quality of this “raw water” varies, according to where you live.

Tap water may also contain heavy chlorine residual, which is needed to ensure it’s kept safe during storage and transit through water mains and pipes which can be rusty or rotten. Of course, there’s also the matter of added fluoride, which we’ll come to later on, in Part 4.

Filtered Water

There are a huge array of filtration systems on the market today and we’re constantly bombarded with new, “better” options. But what are they for?

Well, filters simply take tap water and use a process to remove the chlorine residue, which then improves taste. However, most filters don’t protect against contaminants and parasites which can be found in UK water.

 Reverse Osmosis filter system

Further reading: Part Two, Water Production Methods; Part Three covers Bottling and Plastics; and Part Four is Fluoride in Tap Water.

   http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/beinggreen/117266.aspx

2   http://science.howstuffworks.com/reverse-osmosis.htm

Lucy Bee

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.

  • Wilma Giannandrea

    I use a filter for my youngest sons water, he is severely autistic & heavy metals/ chemicals can have a very bad affect on him! Still like you said chemicals will still be present. I’m just happy he only drinks water!

    • Hi Wilma, It’s such a difficult one isn’t it? I guess all that we can all do is our best, as you are by using a filter. Thanks for taking the time to contact us and apologies for my slow response.

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  • Wilma Giannandrea

    I use a filter for my youngest sons water, he is severely autistic & heavy metals/ chemicals can have a very bad affect on him! Still like you said chemicals will still be present. I’m just happy he only drinks water!

    • Hi Wilma, It’s such a difficult one isn’t it? I guess all that we can all do is our best, as you are by using a filter. Thanks for taking the time to contact us and apologies for my slow response.