In 1993, the United Nations created World Water Day to celebrate water and raise awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. The theme of this year’s World Water Day is valuing water. Water means different things to different people and this year we are asked to think about what water means to us. By celebrating all the different ways water benefits our lives, we can properly appreciate this life-giving compound and safeguard it for future generations.
The global water crisis is a multifaceted issue requiring a multitude of approaches. On one side, there are those working to conserve and protect our water resources. And on the other side, there are those working to provide access to clean water to communities. We see these two responses as intrinsically linked; we cannot have one without the other.
This World Water Week, we want to recognize those working on both sides of the coin -- from an activist developing advanced technologies to rid the oceans of plastic, to nonprofits working to provide proper sanitation and access to drinking water in rural communities, to Nebia customers making the conscious choice to save water each and every day. We consider these organizations and individuals to be “Water Heroes.” They are out there, day in and day out, fighting to preserve, protect, and provide access to this precious resource and are deserving of our recognition.
Let’s meet this year’s Water Heroes:
Autumn Peltier - Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation
Since a very young age, Autumn Peltier has understood the importance of water and the need to protect it. At age 8, she was attending water ceremonies on First Nation reserves, at 13 she addressed world leaders at the UN General Assembly on the issue of water protection, and by 15 she was named the Chief Water Commissioner by the Anishinabek Nation. Autumn advocates for the universal right of clean drinking water, specifically safe drinking water for Indigenous communities in Canada, and uses social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to spread her water advocacy.
Roger Stromberg & Birger Lundgren - Providing water-efficient toilets to schools in rural South Africa
A couple of years ago, Roger Stromberg and Birger Lundgren lived through Day Zero in South Africa, a period of severe water shortage in the Western Cape region. Every person was restricted to 50 liters (13.2 gallons) a day (the average shower uses 20 gallons) and suddenly they understood just how dependent they are on water. It is then that they learned that many rural schools in the area lacked toilets.
According to the World Health Organization, around 372 million students do not have access to proper sanitation in school. Motivated to change that, they developed toilets that uses 98-99% less water compared to a standard toilet and work without water too! They supplied their first pilot school in East Cape, South Africa with these innovative toilets and are currently fundraising to bring their project to many more schools. You can support their important project here.
charity: water Nonprofit
After spending two years in a hospital ship off the coast of Liberia, Scott Harrison saw firsthand the harmful effects of dirty water. When he returned to New York in 2006 he founded charity: water, a nonprofit that brings clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries.
According to charity: water, "When a community gets access to clean water, it can change just about everything! It improves health, increases access to food, grows local economies, and helps kids spend more time in school."
Today, with the help of more than 1 million supporters worldwide, they have raised over $496 million USD and have funded over 59,000 water projects in 29 countries. Once the projects are completed, around 11 million people will benefit from clean water.
Boyan Slat - Founder of The Ocean Cleanup
At the age of 18, Dutch inventor Boyan Slat founded the nonprofit The Ocean Cleanup in response to our massive ocean plastic pollution problem. Every year millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans and have a deleterious impact on more than 600 marine species. Made up of more than 90 engineers, researchers, scientists and computational modelers, The Ocean Cleanup works to develop advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic with the ambitious goal of a 90% reduction in ocean plastic worldwide.
After founding JUST Water, a sustainable approach to bottling water, founders Jaden Smith and Drew FitzGerald gathered a team of passionate and experienced innovators to address the problems that climate change and resource scarcity have on communities of color in the U.S. What began as an experiment to come up with an alternative to single-use plastic water bottles in Flint became the Water Box program and then 501CTHREE, a new type of nonprofit for a younger generation focusing efforts on energy, food, Water, and Shelter in the pursuit of a more sustainable future.
Honorable Mentions - Nebia VIP Customers
Cami Rowe aka @lowwastelady
Activist, vegan, mother of two, and cake-decorator extraordinaire Cami Rowe is always thinking about ways in which her and her family can reduce their waste and use less, instead of more. Freshwater is especially precious to her and says that with a changing climate “it will become ever more important for us to conserve our water resources.” Cami brings her low-waste philosophy into every aspect of her life, including the bathroom. In her words, “Our Nebia has transformed our shower into a spa, while simultaneously reducing our water consumption. We love it!”
Luiz Cent aka @miamijungle
As a plant lover and gardening enthusiast, Luiz Cent understands that water is the foundation of life. Luiz is passionate about water conservation and is a big supporter of local organizations such as Miami WaterKeeper, a nonprofit that works to protect marine ecosystems and habitats in South Florida. As Luiz says, “We need more eyes on our water to preserve it for generations to come.”
Cover Photo courtesy charity:water