The most precious element on Earth?

How water is turning from a basic commodity to a form of luxury and what you can do about it

Alexandra Traykova Alexandra Traykova
+3 imagesThe most precious element on Earth?

On one of my last nights out as a student in the UK, a friend and I ended up having a drunken discussion about whether or not it’s worth it to spend money on bottled water. “Why would I want to pay for that when I can have tap water for free?”, he insisted  like the true Scotsman that he is. It wasn’t until I pointed out that he was, in fact, paying for tap water, that I realized

I could count on my fingertips all the times I’ve had free water in my life.

It’s an observation both fascinating and confusing. Fascinating, because it makes you see humankind in a whole new light – what kind of civilization decides to monetize an element that also doubles as a force of nature?

Confusing, because we have all heard about drinking water and sanitation supposedly being

among the most basic human rights –

it wasn’t even that long ago that the UN Human Rights Council officially adopted this position, in September 2010.
Yet data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF’s joint programme shows that in 2015 over 600 million people had no access to safe, clean drinking water. That’s about 9% of the world’s population.

And on the flipside: An underwater hotel

This number paints a rather grim picture: what some take for granted is dangerously inaccessible to others. The good news is that there are plenty of things that can be done to relieve the suffering of those most affected by the shortage.

There are currently a number of organizations operating throughout the world who aim to help developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, where people tend to struggle the most.

Water, Three Avocados and

are nonprofits that deliver the elixir of life directly.

Puremadi and Waterislife are two nonprofits dedicated almost exclusively to the creation of new filtering technologies, while Miya and Columbia Water Center (CWC) optimize water efficiency by designing solutions which improve distribution.

A life-saving technology: Waterislife’s famous straw filter

You and I may not have the knowledge it takes to contribute to these causes directly, but we can be more mindful when we are choosing where our money goes. And sometimes that’s the first of many steps towards solving a global crisis.