salt water

How Much Water?

By Pam Lazos

Despite its ubiquitous nature, less than 1% of water is available for human use. The rest is salt water (oceans), frozen water (polar ice caps), or inaccessible water (groundwater that’s trapped). We need water to grow or produce everything we eat or drink as well as the products we use. How much water do we need? Some examples: 1 slice of bread – 1 gallon; 1 pound of chicken – 10 gallon; a cup of coffee – 2 gallons; 1 pound of corn – 50 gallons; 1 pound of eggs – 20 gallons; 1 pound of hamburger – 450 gallons; 1 sheet of paper – 3 gallons; a cotton shirt – 100 gallons; 1 pound of wheat – 60-100 gallons.

In an area with limited water resources, simply conserving water that comes from the tap may not be enough. A more sustainable lifestyle approach could help. For instance, would you change the type of food you eat, what clothes you buy, and what products you use, if you needed to pay an additional charge based on the amount of water used?

If the amount of water needed for one serving of beef was 450 times more than to produce one serving of bread, would you eat more bread and eat less beef? If you had to pay $30 for a hamburger, would you still buy one?

Thinking about the true cost of our lifestyle on the environment can be enlightening. What are the impacts of the choices we make? Armed with new knowledge, we can make decisions that are better for the environment. It makes perfect sense. It makes WaterSense. Tips for conserving water

About the author: Pam Lazos works in Region 3’s Office of Regional Counsel chasing water scofflaws and enforcing the Clean Water Act. In her free time, when her family allows, she writes both fact and fiction, but mostly she likes to laugh.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Escape to an Estuary!

By Terry Ippolito

OK, I admit it: although I cannot do it often enough, I need to get away from my desk and computer in New York City and get out there to see what is happening in the real world. And, more specifically, experience the real world of environmental education.

Recently, I went to Port Monmouth, New Jersey to see what some 5th graders were going to be doing on a field trip. This was not a run-around-and-do whatever field trip. Through the efforts of the Monmouth County Park System, this day had a purpose: to teach students about the estuary at Sandy Hook Bay. And I had one too: I wanted to see firsthand what a project EPA is partly supporting really looked like.

An estuary, in case you wondered, is an ecosystem created where fresh water meets salt water. It is a special place. The students learned that as they Terry's-picture##went through four “stations” or activities: seining, shell talk & beachcombing, stewardship activity & plankton study and a boat ride.

From the vantage points of being on shore and then off shore, the students learned about the plants and animals that depend on the estuary, were amazed at the variety of creatures the seining net brought up, and proudly named the different ones when I asked what they were. They found out how to stop trash from getting into the estuary’s waters: don’t litter because that stuff on the street ends up being swept into the estuary during rainstorms. They took a look at the New York – New Jersey Harbor Estuary from the deck of the boat and get a sense of how many different communities share that ecosystem.

I am pretty sure that the things the kids learned that day will stay with them. The field trip was part of a series of classes that preceded and followed the field work so they could connect their classroom learning with their real world outdoor experiences.

It was definitely worth the trip, even if I did have to get back to my office for the afternoon.

About the author: Terry Ippolito, the Environmental Education Coordinator in EPA’s New York City office, lives in Brooklyn, about a mile from Jamaica Bay. She takes that street-to-beach litter connection seriously and picks up litter each morning on her way to the train.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.