Posts Tagged 'water conservation'

Thoughtful Thursday: March 22nd is World Water Day

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It’s that time of year again.  Everyone’s favorite holiday – World Water Day!  What? Never heard of the holiday that celebrates the one substance that is the basis for all life?  Think about it, when scientists are looking for proof of life on other planets, what is the one clue they hope to find?  Water.  The simple presence of water.  They know that if there is water, there may be a possibility for life.  No water, no life.

Here on Earth, almost three quarters of our planet’s surface is covered with water.  The volume of water in your own body is made up of almost that exact same percentage.  We all need water to survive.  And by “we all,” I mean microbes, insects, kittens, people, polar bears, trees, frogs, flowers, birds, turtles, forests, ecosystems, etc.  We are all intricately linked through water.  As much as we try to separate these groups in our minds, as much as we disassociate ourselves with parts of the rest of the world, it would do us good to remember that we all have one common need.

blacktip reef

What do sharks and humans have in common? Their need for water. Clean water.

There is some great information now available that helps us visualize how truly dependent we are on water.  We can see how much water it takes to make a one pound of beef, one pint of greek yogurt, one cup of coffee.  It’s all very fascinating – mostly because it forces us to look at water in new ways.  We live in a world where “conserve water” or “save water” used to mean – stop letting the faucet run while you are brushing your teeth, or don’t water your lawn in the middle of the hot summer day.

This new view of water, puts a truer value on the resources required to produce the food we eat and makes us think about our daily choices in different ways.  For example, it takes three eggs to equal the amount of protein in one serving of beef, but the beef requires nine times the amount of water to produce.

If we are committed to being good stewards of this amazing water planet, we need to start with our own daily choices.  Figure out what is most important to you and then look for ways to make less of an impact!

Interested in learning more about the state of our of water supply and how it’s impacting marine life? Tune into PBS NewHour’s weekly Twitter chat (#NewsHourChats) at 1pm EST to hear from me (@LauraBankey) and our Chief Conservation Officer, Eric Schwaab (via @NatlAquarium)! 

Laura Bankey

This World Oceans Day, Let’s Celebrate How Water Connects Us All

world oceans day

On June 8, organizations and communities from around the world will join to celebrate the Earth’s largest life-support system, the ocean. World Oceans Day, first celebrated in 2002, was established to help educate others on how much of an impact the ocean has on our lives and what we need to do to protect it!

Why we should celebrate the ocean, by the numbers: 

For 2.6 billion people, the ocean is their primary source of protein.

For 3 billion people, the ocean is their livelihood.

For all of us, the ocean absorbs more than 30 percent of carbon dioxide produced by humans, slowing climate change and allowing us a quality of life that, without the ocean, would not be possible (if we could survive at all).

A recent estimate suggests that there may be as many as 1 million species of non-bacterial life in the world’s waterways YET to be identified.

Though Earth is 70 percent water, an incredible 90 percent of this aquatic real estate has yet to be discovered.

While it’s great for the global community to unify this day in celebration of the ocean, here are five easy ways you can protect this vital resource every day:

  1. Reduce your energy use
    Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels can lead to ocean acidification, which is harmful to ocean life. You can help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide you put into the atmosphere by riding a bike, walking or using public transportation and by turning off the lights when you leave a room.
  2. Use less plastic
    When plastic debris ends up in the ocean, animals can mistake it for food and eat it by accident, causing animals to choke or clogging their digestive systems. You can prevent this by limiting plastic use and always disposing of trash properly. Choose reusable items such as cloth grocery bags or refillable water bottles.
  3. Cut apart six-pack rings
    The plastic rings used for soda containers can pose a threat to marine life. Creatures can get caught in the rings and sometimes are unable to free themselves. You can help save these animals by cutting apart the rings before throwing them in the trash.
  4. Conserve water
    Reducing your water use can minimize wastewater runoff into the ocean, preventing chemicals and other contaminants from damaging marine habitats. You can conserve water by taking quicker showers and turning off the water when brushing your teeth.
  5. Eat sustainable seafood
    Overfishing can lead to an irreparable loss in certain seafood populations. To prevent this, avoid catching or eating certain species that have been exploited, such as bluefin tuna and Chilean seabass. Visit seafoodwatch.org for more sustainable seafood recommendations!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Let’s Make Everyday ‘Earth Day’

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Every year since 1970, people around the world have come together on April 22 to celebrate the Earth. Considered the largest civic observance in the world, Earth Day is celebrated by restoring habitats and teaching others about conserving our planet’s natural resources and wildlife.

In recent years, the celebration of our planet has been extended by many to “Earth Week” and even “Earth Month.” I applaud those efforts to extend this day of recognition, however, they beg the question, when will we finally reach the time when every day is “Earth Day?”

With serious threats like climate change, ocean acidification and pollution having an increasingly negative impact on our ecosystems, one day a year to talk about the Earth simply isn’t enough. To make a real difference in the environment, we need to all adopt new behaviors in our daily lives – whether it’s in what we’re buying or what we’re throwing away – that can make an actual impact over time.

Since our inception, the National Aquarium has made a concerted effort to celebrate and preserve the Earth and its diverse ecosystems every day of the year. Whether it’s through engaging with the millions of people who visit our venues annually or through plantings and cleanups out in the field, our staff and volunteers are striving to change collective attitudes and behaviors that have harmed our planet for centuries. We celebrate Earth Day because it’s an opportunity to speak to folks about changing behaviors for the benefit of the planet and its people, but our goal is to minimize our impact on our natural world – and that happens 365 days a year.

This year, I’m asking you to join me in restoring and protecting our natural environment. There are a variety of actions you can take to minimize our individual and collective negative impacts. It’s can be as easy as:

Sticking to these principles (in this order);

  • Refuse –say NO THANKS to straws and lids when possible (we pick up thousands of these in our clean up events)
  • Reduce –carpool, take public transportation or bike or walk to work one day a week – a major source of pollution is emissions from our gas-powered vehicles
  • Reuse –get a reusable water bottle or shopping bag and USE it
  • Recycle –almost every local jurisdiction has a recycling program.  Make sure you are up-to-date on what your county/city can recycle.  The list has expanded tremendously over the past couple of years and close to 50-75% of our waste stream can be diverted from our landfills if we take advantage of the systems that are already in place

Buying local

Making the environment part of your purchasing considerations.  This includes small every day purchases and larger decisions such as appliances, lawn mowers and vehicles.

Conserving water

Joining us for any/all of our conservation events throughout the year

Join your local environmental organization for volunteer opportunities in your area

Even better, starting a conservation initiative of your own and engage your surrounding community!

I’ll be celebrating Earth Day along with everyone else this year, and I hope you do, too. From that day forward, let’s fight together to make our planet a cleaner, healthier place for all of us to share. 

Blog-Header-LauraBankey

Thoughtful Thursdays: World Water Day

World Water Day

Held annually on March 22, the United Nation’s World Water Day brings attention to the importance of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater. Globally, freshwater accessibility is critical for the survival of all living things, yet it is a significantly threatened resource.

Yes, the world is 70 percent water, a staggering amount. Of that water, however, 97.5 percent is salt water and just 2.5 percent is freshwater. The UN and like-minded institutions hope that World Water Day will help people recognize the importance of freshwater and the need to conserve this precious resource.

Like all living things, aquatic animals require plenty of water to survive. So, how does the Aquarium keep our animals happy and healthy and still manage to conserve freshwater?

If you’ve visited the Aquarium in recent years, chances are you’ve strolled through Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Waterfront Park (the greenery in front of our Pier). Did you know that underneath the plant life is a system of cisterns? A cistern is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids. In 2012, we were able to collect an estimated 200,000 gallons of rain water that was then used to water the park. As a result, not a single drop of domestic water was used!

National Aquarium staff have also worked tirelessly to design and implement the most efficient filtration systems throughout many of our exhibits. These upgrades saved more than 430,000 gallons of water last year! Additionally, our new Blacktip Reef exhibit will have a state-of-the-art filtration system installed to further reduce our need for water, while still providing a healthy and thriving environment for our animals!

Want to do your part to conserve freshwater? Here are some easy ways to get started:

  • Knowing where your water comes from is the first step in better protecting it! The Nature Conservancy has a great interactive map that can help you find your local water source!
  • When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  • Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Fixing it can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  • Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.
  • Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation. Better yet, plant native plants in your yard. They require less water, fertilizer and time!

Do you have tips on how to conserve freshwater? Let us know in the comments section!


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