This blog post was written by our intern Anna (16 years old), who did a student internship with us and learned a lot about sustainability and how to use our resources.
I think it´s totally exciting, I always thought there was enough water. When I'm thirsty at home and have nothing left in my bottles, I just drink tap water. After my research, I am surprised. Water will soon be a very valuable resource. And that's what this blog post is about.
In Germany, more than in any other country, groundwater is very thoroughly controlled and carefully treated. That is why we can drink tap water safely in almost all places in Germany. German tap water is considered very clean, unlike the rest of the world.
Although two-thirds of the earth's surface is covered with water, more than 97 percent of it is salt water. Only 2.5 percent is fresh water. But we as humans need fresh drinking water and in addition we use it for agricultural purposes. Fresh water is stored in rivers, lakes, glaciers or in the earth as groundwater. There is hardly a country where the groundwater is not polluted by our excreta, industrial and household wastewater and chemicals such as fertilisers. 3.5 billion people will suffer from water shortages in 2025, mainly due to water pollution.
Contamination through toilets
A water toilet puts drug residues and other chemicals we ingest back into our streams and groundwaters. Drug residues are largely excreted through urine. Urine is diluted with drinking water when the toilet is flushed and sent to the sewage treatment plant. There, the wastewater is purified. Mechanical, biological and chemical processes are used. The purified water is then returned to the water bodies. Nevertheless, many substances, such as antibiotic residues and microplastics, cannot be filtered out completely. In industrialised countries, about 70 % of wastewater is treated by sewage treatment plants, but in less developed countries only about 8 %.
Water pollution is a global issue
18% of the world's population depends on surrounding water bodies that are heavily polluted and contaminated. This poses an extreme threat to human health. About 3% of deaths worldwide are caused by polluted water. This is mainly due to inadequate sanitation systems, as well as poor hygiene. These figures include 15 million people, including children under the age of 5.
In China, for example, more than half of the groundwater is contaminated. Almost all lakes in Europe are at risk of contamination. In Africa, 70% of industrial waste, such as toxic substances, is simply dumped untreated into water bodies, polluting usable water supplies. In South America, 70% of the water that is consumed is discharged back into the rivers without any treatment. In Nort Shore City in New Zealand alone, over 12,000 kilograms of dirt and over 75,000 litres of chemical detergents end up in the sewage every year. Nearly 70 million people in Bangladesh are exposed to polluted groundwater that is highly toxic. Every day, 2 million tonnes of sewage and industrial and agricultural waste are simply dumped into our beloved water bodies. This is equivalent to the weight of the entire human race.
Dry toilets - what ´s the link to water conservation?
Even if we can do little against the pollution of rivers by companies in China, the USA, Bangladesh or wherever, we can at least contribute on a small scale to local water protection. With a dry toilet, for example. Here, the excreta is not flushed into the sewage, but separated and reused. The urine can be diluted and used as fertiliser for your plants. Throw the excrement on the compost and let nature do the decomposition until you have valuable humus. You can use this as soil in the garden.
What else can you do to protect water at home?
Do not let the water run when brushing your teeth or soaping your hands.
Dispose of medicines properly (take them to the pharmacy) and do not flush them down the toilet.
Use peelings without beads
Use household cleaning products that contain little or no chemicals and are naturally degradable, e.g. our beetroot dishwasher.
Make your own cleaning products
Reduce disposable plastic, e.g. straws
Don't pour your cleaning water into the garden
Do not use chemicals in the garden
Use sand instead of salt during winter to secure your paths and streets