Sitting on the edge of the Great Lakes, Chicagoans don’t have to worry about running out of water.
But in advance of the United Nations’ World Water Day on Monday, Josina Morita, commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, is asking people to forget about what comes readily pouring out of the tap and think instead about their hidden “water footprint.”
Everything from clothing to almonds to plastics requires water to produce, and Morita’s “Million Gallon Challenge“ encourages people to make small changes that can have a big impact on water conservation.
The challenge runs from 5 p.m. Friday through 5 p.m. Monday, with a goal of collectively reducing water consumption by, as the name suggests, one million gallons.
People can sign up online to participate, and use #MillionGallonChallenge on social media to share their efforts and results.
“We often think about saving water as taking shorter showers or turning off the faucet, but the majority of the water you use is water that you don’t see,” Morita said in a statement.
Among the conservation tips the challenge suggests: Eating salmon or chicken instead of beef can save 584 gallons of water; snacking on peanuts instead of almonds can save 1,047 gallons of water; and drinking from a reusable water bottle instead of a plastic, disposable one can save 136 gallons of water.
In addition to the global impact of water conservation, there are local benefits too. Water scarcity might not be an issue in the Chicago region, as it is in many other parts of the world, but reducing consumption at the source does play an important role in protecting the area’s waterways from combined sewer overflows.