Water is perhaps our most essential resource. It comprises 60% of the human body, 70% of the human brain. Worldwide, a billion people lack access to clean water and yet, in the US, we waste it watering our suburban lawns, taking luxurious baths, letting it run when we brush our teeth, or filling our swimming pools. We waste more resources when we bottle water and pay exorbitant amounts of money for the privilege of drinking it. Industrially, we use obscene amounts of water to cool waste, pressure-wash equipment, or filter materials. According to Water.org, an American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day. Clearly, this is unsustainable, irresponsible, and dangerous. A billion is a difficult number to conceptualize: try one in nine.
Thankfully, organizations like Charity: Water are working to improve this global water inequity. Founded by Scott Harrison, a former nightclub promoter in New York City, Charity: Water has a simple goal: to bring safe potable water to people in developing nations. Harrison’s story is as inspirational as his work. He felt spiritually bankrupt at his job. He made a lot of money but was deeply unhappy. So he decided to change his life. He started by volunteering on a floating hospital with an organization called Mercy Ships. His experience with sick people living in squalor was transformative. Like many volunteer experiences, he came home changed, ready to devote his life to making the world a better place.
Charity: Water is also distinguished by its 100% model. Every cent donated to the organization from the general public goes directly towards its programs. Operating expenses are fully covered by investors. These are people who recognize the critical role of Charity: Water in improving and often saving the lives of people who don’t have access on our most basic necessity.
Charity: Water is clearly run by a business savvy leader, but it helps that they have such an undeniable charitable cause. Their goals are simple, though the execution surely isn’t. But, I’d like to note for the record: having a single-minded goal that appeals universally to human need is a great business strategy.
Most people in the US have never been thirsty. I haven’t. I don’t even think about the water I use every day, the gallons I take for granted. I can’t imagine living without that comfortable assurance—knowing that every day I will have to travel, fight, and sacrifice for the water I need to survive. If we don’t start doing something about our water scarcity, we will all know what that feels like. Charity: Water is always looking for volunteers. Learn more on their website.