World Water Day (March 22nd) is a yearly reminder of the importance of conserving this precious natural resource. But the truth is, we should be conscious of how we use water all year long, including when we’re on holiday.
It’s easy to take water for granted when it seems plentiful all around us. In modern cities like Prague, we just have to turn on the tap and we have access to almost unlimited amounts of it. But the truth is that clean water is an extremely scarce resource for over half the world’s population.
According to the United Nations, 842,000 people die every year due to unsafe water and poor sanitation. Shockingly, 80% of wastewater produced by humans ends up flowing back into surrounding ecosystems.
So how can green travellers stop being part of this problem? Here are seven tips to keep in mind all year long, World Water Day or not.
It takes a lot of energy to process and package drinking water into plastic bottles. Prague’s tap water is safe for drinking, so why not sip straight from the source? Reusable glass, stainless steel or BPA-free plastic bottles are a great asset to have when traveling. They can be refilled from any bathroom tap, or a drinking fountain (we included the location of fountains on our Prague Green City Guide map). If you want to be sure that your water is clean as can be, invest in a bottle with a built-in filter. When eating out, ask for tap water, or just order a beer (which, by the way, is usually cheaper than bottled water in Prague!).
Organic farming uses less water than conventional farming. In addition, because organic farming uses fewer harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides, there is less contamination of groundwater and nearby water sources. So whether it’s food, coffee or fashion, organic is a wise choice.
Products with Rainforest Alliance certification not only ensure fair income and education for farmers, but also contribute to programs that save water and raise awareness about this important resource in countries where water stress is felt most urgently.
This is less of an issue if you’re staying in a hostel, Couchsurfing or Airbnb accommodation, but when staying in a hotel, reuse your towels instead of getting new ones every day. This alone can save huge amounts of water.
It feels great to stand under the hot water for ages, but it’s extremely wasteful. Try to conserve water by turning off the shower or tap when sudsing up, brushing your teeth or shaving.
Cattle farming is a resource-intensive industry, not to mention its impact on animal welfare and the climate. Per ton, the water footprint of meat, in particular beef, is much higher than that of vegetable crops. Luckily, Prague offers lots of great vegetarian and vegan restaurants in which to indulge in delicious meat-free meals. Check our book for lots of tips on where to go.
Anything you flush down the drain has the potential to end up in a nearby ecosystem. Floods can cause drains to overflow, meaning that the content of sewage systems, chemicals and all, can end up in nature. And no one wants to live in poisoned surroundings.
Read up on why water is such an important resource globally (the below articles are a good place to start) and what else you can do to help improve the situation. Or you can take a visit to Prague’s Old Water Treatment Plant to learn more about the history of water treatment here in the Czech capital. The tour is interesting an also includes a fun underground raft trip through the bowels of the former waste treatment plant.
Rainforest Alliance: “11 tips for conserving water”
United Nations: World Water Day 2017