Cherishing our shared waters

By Aasiya Hussain, WWF-Canada Freshwater Ambassador volunteer.
aasiya hussein with panda

Aasiya Hussain with her favourite Panda at WWF-Canada’s 2012 APM. © James Carpenter / WWF-Canada

Hearing the wind travel from one valley to another while water dripped through a purifier, I knew that my life would never be the same again.  I was addressing water scarcity, contamination, and watershed restoration with my host village while stationed in the foothills of the Himalayas for community development.  Yet like the wind, the intricate dance between water, people, and nature travels beyond borders to echo throughout the world.  From our aquifers, to our rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and beyond – water connects us all.
Here in Canada, we’re blessed with the longest shoreline in the world, 20% of the world’s freshwater, and 7% of the world’s renewable freshwater supply.  We’re also a nation with breathtaking natural beauty and species at risk which depend on healthy and sustainable waters.  Further, some of our communities live a water reality not so different from what is experienced overseas.  Thus, it behoves us to cherish our shared waters, and here are 4 ways to do so:

  1. Reconnect with Nature and Engage in Direct-Action Conservation:

When we reconnect with nature, we’re more inclined to cherish it.  So explore the outdoors and nurture nature in your children to become water stewards.  Take a hike along water or try a low-impact water sport while treading lightly on your chosen location.
As you explore where natural habitats and people intersect, you may also find litter – which pollute our waterways, entangle wildlife, and is mistaken by wildlife for food.  You can help prevent this by joining a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.  Shoreline Cleanups are a tangible means to mitigate pollution, reduce threats to wildlife and ecological health, and reconnect people with nature to help keep our shared waters healthy and sustainable.

aasiya site coordinatorAasiya Hussain, Site Coordinator of the 2012 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup at Finch Meander in Rouge Park.  Photo credit: Umar Nasir.

Rethink Water:
Consider how your lifestyle and decisions impact water.  What’s your water footprint and role in the water-energy-food nexus?  How does this relate with societies, ecosystems, industries, and livelihoods at home and abroad?  Did you know that keeping a 60-watt light bulb on for 12 hrs/day can consume upwards of 20,000L of water?  And that phantom power (electricity sucked by appliances that are turned off, but plugged in) accounts for up to 10% of your annual electricity bill?  So as we consider ways to conserve water, let’s also switch off those lights and unplug those electronics for Earth Hour and beyond
Vote with Your Wallet:
Give the gift of water and become an ethical consumer that shifts the market towards sustainability.  There are many ways to do this, including:

  • –choosing ethical and sustainable products, goods, and services that minimize your water footprint;
  • –opting for reusable and upcycled items with minimal packaging to avoid waste and litter;
  • –sharing the L’eau-ve™ with Ecohesian Inc.’s sustainable waterless print cards – a powerful means to cherish our shared waters with proceeds supporting the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and conservation; and
  • –supporting WWF-Canada and registered charities striving to help make water clean, healthy, accessible, and sustainable.
  • Empower Positive Change:

Become a water champion.  Harness your talents and personal connection with water to create positive tangible change in your life, at work, and within civil society, governance, business, and industry to make water sustainability flourish.
To learn more,  please explore WWF-Canada’s Freshwater Program and join me on March 23rd at 2pm for “Water: It Connects Us All”, a hike with Rouge Park in celebration of World Water Day, Canada Water Week and the International Year of Water Cooperation.  This hike is also a great opportunity to witness the watershed my  team cherished through the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
Aasiya Hussain is a life-long supporter of WWF-Canada and served as our 2011 Freshwater Ambassador volunteer.  She is a dedicated water steward and community catalyst who coordinates the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup at Finch Meander in Rouge Park, where she is also a certified hike leader and ambassador.  Aasiya is also the recipient of the 2012 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup Site Coordinator Award and the Executive Director of Ecohesian Inc., an award-winning socio-environmental enterprise.  Her opinions expressed in this blog are her own.