This Eco-Friendly Shower Routine Tweak Is Actually Super Fun
Welcome to Planet for All—a series that will empower you to change our world. This week, we’re teaming up with sustainable thought leaders to unpack five of the biggest threats to our environment and pinpoint an accessible, meaningful, and heart-driven action that we can all take to make a huge difference. Today, we’re diving into water access issues with the indomitable Mina Guli.
Mina Guli swears she's not a runner. "If you gave me the choice to sit on the couch or run, I would sit on the couch. Running is so not fun." The Aussie native laughs. And yet, at 47 years old, Guli ran 40 marathons in 40 consecutive days, and now she has her sights set on 100 marathons in 100 days. Her reticence to embrace the act of running only makes those thousands of miles that much more impressive.
"I'm not good at running, but I run because I want to make a difference," she tells mindbodygreen during a trip to New York as her training is revving up. "It's about the story and inspiring people and getting them talking about water."
The water access challenge through Mina's eyes.
When she's not pounding pavement, Guli serves the CEO of Thirst for Water—an initiative of the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders program that helps young people think more critically about water use. Guli first took this mission to the marathon circuit in order to see water scarcity face-to-face and better pinpoint how to help stop it. More than just an impressive athletic feat, her running is therefore also a symbol of perseverance, the importance of dreaming big, and the limitlessness of human potential.
It has taken her to every continent ("I'll never forget standing in the middle of Antarctica, where the white of the sky joined into the white of the snow beneath my feet," she recounts. "That's the only place I've ever been able to run and hear my own heartbeat.") And it has put her in touch with people from all walks of life. Farmers installing drought-resistant measures in water-starved California, "fog catchers" extracting water from air in the desert of Chile—all these water stewards are a testament to the very real problem on our hands.
Today, 40 percent of people on the planet are dealing with water scarcity, and the United Nations has predicted that by 2030, nearly half of the world's population will be living in areas of high water stress. The causes of these water crises are varied, often exacerbated by climate change conditions, improper infrastructure, and population booms. In places like Cape Town, South Africa, an outdated dam system isn't capturing enough water to feed a growing city, while in California, most of the state's already limited water supply is being diverted to its massive agriculture industry. (mindbodygreen published a comprehensive piece on the intricacies of water access in California, which you can read here.)
And yet, despite their differences, Guli thinks all of today's water access fights are fueled by the same thing. "What do they have in common? One simple thing: humans," she says, pointing to the fact that most of us cycle through massive amounts of water every day without even realizing it. "Water is more than what we see. It goes into everything we use, buy, and consume every day. But the good news about that is that we have so many opportunities to be part of the solution. We can make change."
By traveling through varied landscapes like deserts, lush terrain, and bustling city streets, Guli has found that all of us have a role to play in this fight, no matter where we live or what comes out of our tap.
How you can become a water access advocate.
If we're going to tackle such a far-reaching problem, we need to first shift our mindset. From there, the habits will fall into place. Every time you turn on the tap, think about the people Guli has come across in her travels, such as Fidal, the California farmer who spends every day returning every drop of water he can to his crops using homemade plastic contraptions that trap evaporation on the soil surface. Or Hugo, who designed massive nets above his home in the Atacama Desert to capture moisture from fog and divert it to a small pond on his property.
"These people kept telling me that every drop counts. Imagine the impact that each one of us can have counting drop by drop. Compared to them, we've got gallons to save," Guli says. And doing so is about more than just turning off the tap since most of our water use is invisible. "We forget how much water goes into the production of food. Throwing out one hamburger is the same as taking a shower for two hours in terms of water lost. Every time you get rid of clothes, you're tossing water too. From your food to your clothing to the water that comes out of your tap, every single change that you can make to save water makes a big difference."
Starting today, pledge to turn off your tap while you brush your teeth, and keep showers under five minutes, using music to ease into it.
How's this for small changes, big impact: If all of mindbodygreen's readers shut off the tap and shower-danced to "Dancing Queen," which comes in at the challenging but doable 3:52 mark, we’d collectively save enough water to fill 10,537 Olympic swimming pools in just one week.
Moving forward, let's remember that every drop counts, think more critically about our purchases and trash habits, and lay off the tap every once in a while, if for no other reason than to help Guli get some rest.
"I want to make sure we have enough water for every person forever," she broadcasts. "And when I do that, I can stop running and sleep."
Keep up with Mina's #everydropcounts water conservation campaign, sponsored by Colgate, at her website, read mbg's coverage of the water access crisis in California here, and stay up to date on water access issues by checking into News Deeply and supporting organizations fighting for clean water for all like the NRDC and Sierra Club. And stay tuned for more Planet for All inspiration on mbg this week.