Monthly Challenge: Making Water Accessible

Each month I will be administering a social challenge! This is an opportunity for you and me to take the first step in addressing these social issues at an individual level.  For the month of February: I Challenge YOU to decrease your daily water usage by at least 15-25%!

As a starting point, it will be important for you to complete a water audit of your own household (see post below). Throughout the month I will share with you my own progress as well as simple tips on how to decrease water usage!

So why this challenge? According to “Today’s water crisis is not an issue of scarcity, but of access. More people in the world own cell phones than have access to a toilet. Every day, lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills thousands, leaving others with reduced quality of life.” The other part of water access is how water is used in the world. The image below gives a great visual of the areas of the world and how they utilize their water resources! Find out other facts about water here

Roughly 99.9% of US citizens have access to clean water with an average citizen using 175 gallons/day.  Water bills in the US vary depending on location, time of year, and how conservatively residents use their water.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), after a national poll, says that the average water bill for an American household is $40.00 per month.  By decreasing your water use by 25%, your bill could drop a total of $10.00 per month with an overall yearly savings of $120.00!’s campaign for equal access to water asks for donations of $25.00 in order to provide a single person access to a clean water source.  Approximately 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; approximately one in eight people. The average American household could give water access to roughly 5 people with the savings on their water bill by decreasing their water usage by 25%. As a country, the United States as of 2009 had an estimated total of 129, 969, 653 households.  If every household in the US donated the money they would save in one year on their water bill to’s campaign approximately 624 million people would be provided the opportunity to gain access to clean, safe water sources by 2012!

So in addition to challenging all of you to decrease your water usage by 15-25%, I also encourage you to keep track of all the money you save on your monthly water bills and donate it to providing someone in need with access to water.  A simple concept that could make huge impacts on the global water crisis by changing simple daily habitats in and around your home!

Are you up for the challenge? Find out how to become involved with Water.Org Here

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Where Did All the Water Go? Water Audit for Your Home

Thinking back on your morning routine as you sit at your office desk: How much water did you use this morning?

The average American citizen uses roughly 176 gallons of water per day! Compared to the average amount of water used by an entire family in one of Africa’s many nations of only 5 gallons per day, it starts to make you wonder why we use so much.  In the United States, about 99.9% of all citizens have access to a clean water source and for the most part an unlimited supply.

As a result the US tops the charts for global water usage per individual per day!

Courtesy of

There are steps that we can take as individuals to decrease the amount of water we use on a daily and monthly basis. Looking at things on completely selfish level, decreasing your water usage can have a significant impact on your water bill.  According to the Maryland Department of the Environment, “it is possible to cut your water usage by as much as 30 percent by implementing simple conservation measures and without drastically modifying your lifestyle.”

So how can you determine how much water you use on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis.  The best way is to complete an in house water audit.  For some this could be a very quick and easy process, for others it may take a little more work! This water audit template is brought to you by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

HOW DO I CALCULATE WATER USAGE IN MY HOME?  It is important to realize that water use throughout the year often varies with the season.    Most people use more water in the warmer months for gardening, washing cars, and other outdoor uses.  If you conduct your water audit in the winter or fall, you should still consider the additional water you use in the summer months.  The American Water Works Association (AWWA) estimates that the average indoor water use per person is 94 gallons of water per day; this does not take into account outdoor water use (watering lawns, washing cars).

If you obtain water from a community water system, you probably receive a water bill that tells you how much water you use.  Many water utilities provide customers with bills that contain information regarding the amount of water consumed and average daily consumption during the billing period.  If the average daily consumption is not provided,
you can calculate it by dividing the total amount of water used by the number of days in the billing period.  If your water bill does not provide water consumption data, then you can read your water meter to obtain this information.  Water meters measure the total amount of water used in your home and are usually located at the property line or on the house.  To obtain your water use over the course of a 24-hour day, read your meter at the same time on two consecutive days.  You may want to measure water use for several days and then calculate a daily average.

For those people who do not have a water bill or access to their meter you can estimate water use by an in home water audit. It will be important to measure all water use, indoor and outdoor, to accurately estimate the quantity of water used.  To determine how much you consume water in your home it is necessary to measure water flow from each fixture in your house:
• To calculate flow for faucets (indoor and outdoor) and showerheads, turn faucet to the
normal flow rate that you use, and hold a container under the tap for 10 seconds and measure the quantity of water in the container.  Multiply the measured quantity of water by 6 to calculate the gallons per minutes (gpm).
• To calculate flow for toilets, turn off the water supply to the toilet, mark the water line on the inside of the tank, flush, and then fill tank with water from tap.  Measure the volume of water that is required to fill water back up to the water line mark on the tank and record this number.  Turn water on to the toilet to resume normal use.
•  If your appliances or fixtures are relatively new, you may be able to obtain the flow rate from the manufacturer’s specifications.  Otherwise, use the following averages:  o Washing machine – 41 gal per use o Dishwashing machine – 9 gal per use

Next, measure how many times per day or how many minutes each day you use each fixture or appliance.  Multiply the water flow per fixture by the minutes per day the fixture is used.  Multiply the flow average for each appliance by the number of times the appliance is used each week.  Don’t forget to include the amount of time you use outdoor faucets each day. When I completed this audit myself, I found my roommate and my average water usage for a week including the times we ran the dishwasher and the loads of laundry we did to get a more accurate daily average over the week.                                 Check out the Full Audit Instructions Here

After completing the audit in my own apartment I identified that my roommate and I use an average of 96.64 gallons/day. Although way below the national average this was still shocking to me. I compared it to trying to fit 193 gallon jugs of water into my apartment! How many gallons do you use a day? Complete your own water audit and fill out the poll below!






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February 2011: Environmental Justice

Lets Have a GREEN February! This month’s topic will focus on Environmental Justice!

“Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.” ~Definition of the US federal government

I chose to start with environmental justice after reading an article referencing the Dalai Lama’s concern for climate change issues. Tha Dalai Lama recently spoke out about the importance of focusing efforts on climate change perhaps over other publicized issues.

The Dalai Lama argued that the political agenda should be sidelined for five to ten years and the international community should shift its focus to climate change on the Tibetan plateau. Melting glaciers, deforestation, and increasingly polluted water from mining projects were problems that “cannot wait.

Increasing concern has been focused on the Tibetan region because of its extremely fragile ecosystem. Qin Dahe, the former head of the China Meteorological Administration, stated:

“Temperatures are rising four times faster than elsewhere in China, and the Tibetan glaciers are retreating at a higher speed than in any other part of the world.” “In the short term, this will cause lakes to expand and bring floods and mudflows.” “In the long run, the glaciers are vital lifelines for Asian rivers, including the Indus and the Ganges. Once they vanish, water supplies in those regions will be in peril.

As Qin Dahe states above, climate change will affect all other social issues in the coming years unless we join together to work towards treating the world we live on with the same respect as we treat each other. Climate Change will not take just a lifestyle change globally. It will not just disappear until global leaders and global citizens alike have a mentality switch and truly focus on nipping this issue in the butt and quickly.

I personally have always been interested in the environmental social movement since I was a sophomore in high school.  I was a participant on an alternative break to Costa Rica to work on a sea turtle reservation, playing the role of the stork for the unhatched babies, moving the sea turtle eggs to the hatchery in a safe place on the beach.  On that trip I had the opportunity to learn about rainforest reforestation in the middle of the Central American rainforest! It was an AMAZING experience and that was my turning point.

Upon my return, I flew my Green flag higher than anyone I knew. Then slowly like most people who join social movements, I became bored, too lazy to separate my recyclables, and would leave the faucet running while I brushed my teeth.  After reading the words from the Dalai Lama, I decided to reevaluate for myself am I truly an active citizen when it comes to environmental justice and living a sustainable life.  So join me this month in learning about how we can contribute to our globe on a positive sustainable level.

I’m not here to join a movement…I’m here to make a positive lifestyle change! Take this as your invitation to join me on my journey this month 🙂

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Welcome to Rooted Change

Welcome to Rooted Change! My name is Bryan and I am a Youth Programs Director at Excel Youth Zone located in sunny San Diego, CA and will be the main contributor for this blog! I have been working with social justice issues since high school and have integrated service as a part of my lifestyle.

The idea for this blog is to provide a platform for critical education.  With all that is going on in the world today it is easy to become lost and hopeless when trying to tackle social issues.  Often times we will join a new movement only knowing it will be the next big fad or we will volunteer our time without asking the critical “why?” questions. What is missing from most social movements today is the access to critical educational components that the average person can digest and formulate opinions/stances on.  This is where Rooted Change takes the lead!

Each month I will focus on a single social issue. Throughout the month, I will provide you with multimedia of varying sources and opinions, weekly and monthly challenges, and tips/ways you can contribute to the cause.  My hope is to help as many individuals as this blog can reach develop a passion for the social justice issues that they connect the most with.  My goal is to make the layperson aware of these issues and introduce them to ways they can contribute to their local and global communities using positive sustainable practices to influence change.

In order to make change, we must encourage each other to start looking at the root causes of these social issues.  Rooted Change: A Firmly Implanted Change!

The problems we face today, violent conflicts, destruction of nature, poverty, hunger and so on, are human-created problems which can be resolved through human effort, understanding and the development of a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share.                       -14th Dalai Lama

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