Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I wash my hands of you all!

By Carl

I bet you didn't know today was
Global Handwashing Day...

In India, cricket star Sachin Tendulkar will be leading the campaign that will see children across South Asia simultaneously washing their hands.

The UN says it wants to get over the message that this simple routine is one of the most effective ways of preventing killer diseases.

Nearly half the world's population do not have access to adequate sanitation.

Leave it to the Beeb to understate the case, a little.

According to the United Nations' "
Water For Life Decade" campaign, upwards of four billion people live with water scarcity every day, as defined by demand exceeding local supply. Note that this figure includes several portions of the United States, most notably the Southwest.

Included in this percentage is about 1.1 billion people who simply have no access to safe drinking water, period. That's three times the size of the United States population. Imagine if every man, woman, and child in the US had to drink sewer water to survive.

Some of these people may have access to a gallon of water a day or less! Imagine being given a gallon jug every day, and told that you can have only that, for drinking, bathing, and cooking, each day, every day. And there's no guarantee it's clean!

Water scarcity is particularly a woman's issue, as well. In many societies,
it is the woman who is tasked with obtaining clean fresh water for drinking, washing and cooking (images of African tribeswomen with jars on their heads should immediately confirm this intuitively).

We in America, with our broad swaths of temperate rain forests, forget how hard some countries, some people, have it with even the most basic subsistence materiel.

So go wash your hands, and then go online, spread the word, and
donate. Skip one bottle of Poland Spring or Dasani or Aquafina (and if you're still drinking bottled water after all the talk about landfills and plastic bottles, then this is one more reason you should give it up), and give that $1 or two to WaterAid.

Then go wash your hands once again. You don't know where that keyboard's been!

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)


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  • This is a great campaign. Growing up on well water, I'm still surprised how fanatic people get about the purity of their water and spend so much money on bottled water when it could be donated to other causes. As there will always be people who buy water bottles, there's room to make them greener and biodegradable at least as there are biodegradable corn plastics on the market. I've tried using a Pur filter at home but have not been able to get the rest of my family to leave their Aquafina non-biodegradable bottles at the store.

    If you are interested, there's an effort to pressure PepsiCo to switch to biodegradable bottles for Aquafina water. Check it out at

    I just joined as I feel we need to just get one of the bottled water makers to make the switch and that will hopefully encourage other water companies to follow their lead.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:38 PM  

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