The Truth About Our Drinking Water and The Urgent State of Our Environment

Some people idolize musicians and movie stars. And there are those whose hearts beat for environmental crusaders, like David Suzuki.

I was invited to listen to Dr. Suzuki speak on World Water Day. I RSVPd yes faster than you can say, “The Nature of Things,” and asked if I could bring along my son who we (half) jokingly refer to as “The Next David Suzuki.”

Inspired by the presentation, my son delivered an impassioned speech of his own this week at school on the topic of the urgent need for environmental rehabilitation. His words echoed that of his hero as he explained that the days of merely preserving nature are over. Alarmingly, many scientists believe that 90% of humans will be gone by the year 2100. This horrifying revelation is not science fiction, but based on scientific data related to overpopulation, environmental destruction, and climate change.

Suzuki’s concern and underlying frustration was apparent, “Who needs nature in a city? We have Netflix,” he said. His tongue-in-cheek statement refers to our obsession with technology which has created a dangerous state of isolation. Shut off from the world around us, we’re too distracted to comprehend or even notice the gravity of our situation.

I can’t get his words out of my head and I want to shout from the rooftops, “Wake up!! We need to do something!”

Earth, air, fire, water. These are fundamental needs. Without them, life will cease to exist.

We know this, but do we UNDERSTAND the urgency? Most people are unaware how serious things have become. They hear, “extinction, global warming, climate change, pollution, contamination,” and accept that this is just the way it is. Desensitization and apathy will be humanity’s downfall.

Forests are disappearing at an unnerving rate. The air we breathe and the water we drink depend upon our forests—the engine and filtration system of the water cycle.

Fracking practices continue to contaminate our ground water. And chemical and manufacturing plants are poisoning earth, air and water.

The sobering fact is that we are living beyond the “carrying capacity” of our biosphere. The amount of life we can support (provide with food, water, and air) has exceeded what we can handle. And we’ve been living this way for far too long, depleting the earth of resources.

The world is 70% water. Our bodies are 70% water. So the cleanliness of our water matters!! Nobody knows this better than the people of Flint, Michigan whose entire water supply was contaminated by poisonous lead.

PUR, the company dedicated to reducing contaminants from our drinking water with their personal water filtration systems stepped up and donated a million dollars worth of product into the Flint community to help.

In connection with World Water Day, the makers of PUR expanded on Suzuki’s point about the fundamental need for water, and spoke about the purity of our water. Or more accurately, the impurity.

One third of Toronto’s pipes are well past their expiry date. Twenty per cent are 80+ years old. That’s decades of sludge and metals and lead lining the pipes that carry the water you drink into your home.

No safe blood level of lead has been identified, but laws allow a certain level of lead. Not because it’s safe, but because corrosion is a problem, and expensive to fix. So the water flowing through our taps may appear clean but may contain any number of dangerous toxins.

If money is not an option, you can have a central filtration system installed in your home. Or, a more economical solution is a pitcher or faucet attachment filtration system. Keep in mind that not all water filters are created equal. Some filter out more contaminants than others. 

We were given a PUR pitcher to try and are using it in place of our old pitcher style filter. I was impressed to learn PUR filters and tap filtration systems remove 99% of lead, 96% of mercury and 92% of pesticides. Yes, these contaminants and more can be found in our drinking water.

We’ve used the PUR jug daily for three weeks and have now retired our former water pitcher. We’ll definitely continue to buy PUR replacement filters (which, bonus…are 100% recyclable through the revolutionary TerraCycle Program. If you don’t yet have an account, sign up. It’s free!).

Note: Don’t expect the water to filter instantly into the jug. It can take some time to filter through all the carbon cells. If you find it’s exceptionally slow, you can turn remove the filter, turn it upside down and shake to loosed the carbon particles and release any air bubbles. However, it’s definitely worth the wait. Not only is the water pure, it tastes significantly better from the jug.

Sometimes I find myself in a straight up panic when I really think about the chemicals and toxins in our drinking water and all around us. I feel overwhelmed by GMOs and the carcinogenic ingredients hidden in my food and cosmetics and everything. We can’t eliminate every contaminant, but there are things we can control. Like filtering our water, educating ourselves and others about making sustainable, healthy choices, and supporting companies who respect the environment and do the least amount of harm.

A point that David Suzuki made, not part of his presentation, but an off the cuff remark stuck with me. He said, “We’re so impressed with ourselves. How smart we are. We can travel into space. So what? We need to take care of the mess we’ve made here on earth.”

And boy have we made a mess.

Like I mentioned before, many respected scientists say that humans could be extinct by the year 2100. That’s less than 85 years from now. Our children and grandchildren could witness the end of humanity. I found this notion chilling. And I can’t understand why aren’t people freaking out, demanding action, making a plan.

A woman at our table asked Dr. Suzuki what individuals can do to help—she wanted to hear that there’s a silver bullet solution.

There isn’t one.

Suzuki acknowledged that small changes are important, but recycling and planting a garden, actions like these, are no longer enough. What’s needed now are big changes…BIG changes on a global political scale. We’re talking about legislation and laws and mandates and swift, effective action.

The single most important thing we, (you and I for now, then our kids when they’re old enough), can do is to get involved on a political level. We must hold corporations and the politicians who enable them to continue to contaminate our earth, air and water, accountable. We can no longer allow ourselves to be distracted by Snapchat filters and reality TV. 

The phrase “Time is of the essence” doesn’t seem to relay the urgency strongly enough. Every one of us needs to step up to defend our fundamental needs and to demand the implementation of  technologies that can reverse and repair the damage our actions have caused. 

How’s that for something to think about this Earth Day? 

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