If we asked you what killed most people in the world, would you know the answer? 66% of 18-24 year olds questioned in a recent YouGov survey, commissioned by the Water Explorer team, weren't sure. 

You probably know the answer is lack of access to fresh water.  It is responsible for 840,000 deaths per year.  Water issues can seem remote to the West, which could explain why many don’t think of water as a big issue. But can we afford to be complacent?

The EC doesn’t think so. [i] Climate change will cause temperatures to skyrocket over the coming decades. Droughts will no longer be something we hear about in the papers but instead will happen more and more in Western Europe - and that includes the UK.

As Water Explorer starts its second year, we can celebrate that we have over 50,000 bright young minds, in over 11 countries, already getting to grips with this global issue.  They are doing their bit to urge their peers, family and wider community to change their behaviour. 

We are supporting their tremendous effort by asking everyone to #turnoffthetap.

And we mean that literally! 49% of 18-24 year olds in our survey still run the tap when brushing their teeth. That wastes 17,520 litres of water per year (source: Thames Water).  If that doesn’t make you want to turn off, if you have a water meter in your home, think of the £36 extra on your water bill that you are sloshing down the plughole.  

41% of our sample said they run the tap when washing up.  Using a bowl or plugging up the sink could reduce water wastage by 50% or more. 

Water Explorer was born out of a belief that better education has a key role to play in changing these behaviours - and 31% of 18-24 years olds in the sample agreed with this.  The need for increased awareness goes beyond the running tap and missed opportunities to use rainwater to nurture the garden by those that don’t possess a water butt. 

It includes understanding the impact of our purchasing patterns as the things that we consume have an embedded water history.  The recent thirst for throw-away clothes sees us regularly disposing of perfectly good shoes and jeans that took as much as 8,000 litres of water to make. 

If you are reading this worrying that we’re about to ask you to stop drinking coffee or wearing shoes or jeans then don’t worry - we’re not, just yet! But the next time you're standing blurry-eyed at the sink, brushing your teeth, will you be inspired to #turnoffthetap?

Visit the Water Explorer website



[i] Research by Climate Risk Management Unit, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Joint Research Centre, European Commission, Ispra, Italy and Centre for Environmental Systems Research (CESR), University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/18/85/2014/hess-18-85-2014.html