World Water Day was observed March 22. Each year, it's celebrated as a day for global water awareness. But with 780 million people lacking access to clean water shouldn’t we be “water aware” every day? When so many go without, the fact that we have easy access to clean water at little or no cost, but continue to take it for granted seems irresponsible. The typical “I like long showers,” “I’m busy,”  “I don’t like the taste,” or “I can never remember my reusable bottle” comments seem trivial compared to the struggle so many face to obtain enough of this vital resource to survive.

Throughout the month of March, Harvard University Housing hosted six Water Taste Test Challenges at their large multi-story properties.  Staffed by HUH’s Sustainable Community Leaders, residents were asked to sample three unmarked water containers to see if they could tell the difference between the tap, a popular bottled water brand, and an expensive “designer” bottled water. For their participation, residents were rewarded with reusable water bottles and shower timers to help them reduce plastic waste and conserve water at home.

Averaging the responses from all six events, less than 20% of the residents were able to identify the waters correctly.  We are lucky to live in an area with high quality tap water that is instantly at our finger tips, so the message was if you can’t taste the difference, why pay the difference? Water infographics were also used to encourage people to conserve and appreciate the water available to them.

Try a Water Taste Test Challenge at your school, office, with a group of friends, or even at home with the family! It’s an easy setup with impactful results. Let’s all strive to be more water wise.