Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day: Wine and Water – You Can Make A Difference

Bookmark and Share  Today is Blog Action Day, when more than 2,200 bloggers from 113 countries will all be joining together to focus attention on a matter of global importance. This year the topic is water. Even the White House and the UK Foreign Office will be joining in to blog about the issue today. I think it is great that we have the opportunity to harness the power of social media for the greater good and – yes, there is a connection to wine.

Why is water important? Consider this.

Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Unclean drinking water can incubate some pretty scary diseases, like E. coli, salmonella, cholera and hepatitis A. Given that bouquet of bacteria, it's no surprise that water, or rather lack thereof, causes 42,000 deaths each week.

More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. Today, 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets. This means that sewage spills into rivers and streams, contaminating drinking water and causing disease.

Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water. They do this while carrying cisterns weighing around 40 pounds when filled in order to gather water that, in many cases, is still polluted. Aside from putting a great deal of strain on their bodies, walking such long distances keeps children out of school and women away from other endeavors that can help improve the quality of life in their communities.

It takes 6.3 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger. That 6.3 gallons covers everything from watering the wheat for the bun and providing water for the cow to cooking the patty and baking the bun. And that's just one meal! It would take over 184 billion gallons of water to make just one hamburger for every person in the United States.

The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world. From showering and washing our hands to watering our lawns and washing our cars, Americans use a lot of water. To put things into perspective, the average five-minute shower will use about 10 gallons of water. Now imagine using that same amount to bathe, wash your clothes, cook your meals and quench your thirst.

While these facts may be grim, there is hope for real solutions as more and more people around the world are waking up to the clean water crisis. Earlier this year, the UN declared access to clean water a human right and groups like charity: water and continue to work tirelessly to bring water access to the developing world.

In doing research for this story, I was struggling with the connection with wine lovers – aside from the fact that our readers are well informed and socially responsible people. I discovered the work of a group called Wine to Water and it allows people with a love of wine to channel that into greater access to clean drinking water for those in need.

Wine To Water is a 501(c)(3) non-profit aid organization focused on providing clean water to needy people around the world. Nearly 1 billion people in the world today lack access to adequate water and 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation. WTW is devoted to fighting this epidemic. Wine symbolizes fortune in our society. The WTW goal is to give the fortunate population an opportunity to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.

The founder of the organization is Doc Hendley. He was a bartender and playing music in North Carolina nightclubs when he dreamed up the idea. A year later the first fundraiser was held and by August of that same year Doc was living in Darfur, Sudan installing water systems for victims of the government supported genocide.The haunting memories of what he had seen in Darfur drove him to continue building the organization he started two years before. In 2007, after working two jobs and volunteering his time for over three years, Wine To Water became an official 501 (c) (3) and Doc's dream finally became a reality.

You can get involved by hosting a benefit for Wine to Water in your community, school, or home. Wine tastings, whether in restaurant or home settings, have always been a part of Wine to Water. They are a fun way to gather your friends or community together while helping a good cause. The Water to Wine website offers downloadable fact sheets, checklists and other information that make it very easy to host an event. All donations made to Water to Wine are tax deductable. WTW also offers a line of wines and a portion of proceeds from each bottle goes to the cause. The WTW wines are a 2007 Old Vines Zinfandel and a 2008 Estate Chardonnay.
Photo by Vincent Lock

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