A waterway in the Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest. Photo provided by Xiao Lin.

Water is the source of all. It’s a special and very important need for any creature that lives in the world. For example, if people don’t eat, they can probably live for several weeks or years, but if people don’t drink water, they can only survive for a few days because of dehydration. During our 5-day- long education and service-learning trip that I took with the Wildnerness Inner-City Leadership Development (WILD) youth group, I was able to learn first-hand the importance of water.

During our camping days at the Skykomish Ranger District of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, we tried to use our water as responsibly as we could. Each day, we worked 8 hours doing physical labor, pulling weeds, hiking one and a half miles to get to the ridge of the Heybrook Fire Lookout tower (which was 1,700 ft in elevation), and worked on the top of the tower 67 feet high above the ground where we painted the walls and the floors. All this work made us extremely hot and thirsty.

Drinking water helped remove the heat and cooled us down. After getting dusty, sweaty, and itchy from the work, we were also allowed to take a 5-minute shower. At first, I was surprised because I have never taken such a short shower in my life. However, I later understood that it was reasonable to ask us to limit ourselves to 5 minutes in the shower, especially after I saw the information from Seattle

Public Utilities.

A standard shower-head sprays five to seven gallons of water per minute, so

even a five-minute shower can consume 35 gallons. Usually I take up to 20-minute showers. This means I waste about 140 gallons of water during my shower every day! I was appalled and embarrassed hearing this information. What’s more amazing is that if each member of a family of four takes a five-minute shower daily, the family will use more than 700 gallons of water every week — or a three-year supply of drinking water for one person! Compared to the people who live in water-poor countries or drought-prone areas, I think we are really fortunate that we have plenty of water to wash, drink, for recreation, and so on.

From what I have seen in the news, many places in China are facing a drought and these drought areas are continuing to expand. Lakes and river water levels are reducing. Parts of them are drying. The way people choose to live is a great influence on these events.

When I see the children, animals, and plants’ poor and thirsty faces, I really commiserate with them. They are begging for water which we don’t really care about! Suddenly, I feel so ashamed — how can I be wasting water carelessly while other people are suffering from drought?

A penny saved is a penny earned. I want people to think about how to use water logically and cherish what we already have. We should save water for the people who need it more than us. By wasting water, we are taking one step forward to drought. Let’s pull together to help our Earth and ourselves at “full steam”!

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