According to several researchers, demand for water will exceed supply by 40 percent within the next 20 years. Many of the products and processes that we have grown accustomed to were designed based on the idea that water is limitless. Unfortunately, that could not be more untrue. In fact, every product we manufacture and every project we undertake uses an incredible amount of water.
According to the Protected Water Fund, it takes 2,400 liters to produce a hamburger and 11,000 liters to make a pair of jeans. Brewing one pot of tea requires 90 liters of water, most of which is used to water the tea plant and process it into a tea bag. Manufacturing processes for most products are unsustainable and will result in crisis. Some researchers predict that without a commitment to decreased water usage, water will become comparable to oil in terms of exclusivity and price.
Over the past 20 years, we have made incredible strides in the development of new technologies and our dedication to sustainability. Economic power has shifted, mortality rates are dropping, and population growth has reached an all-time high in many areas of the world. In the next 20, we must ensure that people are aware of the importance of water resources and we, as individuals and corporations, use as little of it as possible.
Developing nations, such as Africa, Asia, and Central America are in desperate need of clean, potable water. Nearly 3.575 million people die each year as a result of waterborne illness and 1.1 billion do not have access to clean water. Those numbers seem incredibly high considering the amount of wealth held by individuals and nations. People are concerned with the price of gas and their monthly electric bill, but do not realize the severity of the issue when it comes to clean water.
Several companies have invested in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and are researching new ways of manufacturing high quality products with lesser amounts of water. This type of behavior is helpful and could alleviate the amount of stress being placed on our water resources, but only if it is done on a large scale. Without a sense of commitment and buy-in from large, global corporations, the demand for clean water will, indeed, exceed supply.
Water is essential in everything that we do. It is necessary for survival, regardless of your geographic location, economic background, race, religion, etc. Within the next 20 years, we must commit ourselves to eliminating water waste and distributing clean water to those in need. This relationship with and respect for water will help us, now and in the future.