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Youth raise a glass to tap water on World Water Day

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Person pours water from tap into bottle. Image credit: Bluewater Globe/Unsplash

Happy World Water Day!

Celebrated around the globe since 1992, March 22 is World Water Day. This year's theme of "Valuing Water" acknowledges that water is essential for life. It also highlights just how close we are to depleting this natural resource by allowing its commodification through water mining permits, futures trading and public-private partnerships.

In addition to efforts to remove water from the public common, the massive amount of plastic waste that single-use bottled water creates is a global crisis.

So, how can we safeguard our basic human right to water? Wellington Water Watchers (WWW) has a simple answer: Tap It for Hours.

The Guelph-based, water-conservation non-profit has launched its latest social initiative, #TapItForHours. The program offers volunteer hours to high school students across Canada for simply taking a video of themselves drinking tap water and then sharing it on Instagram.

"What seems like a simple action has the ability to make a profound difference," says Mike Balkwill, campaign director at Water Watchers. "A huge part of reducing single-use plastic involves promoting environmentally conscious alternatives. When students make these posts, they're making a statement about what they believe and encouraging their friends and family to make better choices. That's powerful. Education is the first step in changing behaviour."

The campaign takes into account the reality many students are facing during the current lockdown: stuck at home but still requiring 20 volunteer hours (in Ontario) to graduate in 2021. WWW has provided extra incentive to kick off Tap It for Hours -- anyone participating on March 22 will earn double the hours.

Tap It for Hours also aims to maximize inclusivity for youth without access to clean drinking water. They can take a video of themselves pouring a glass of water from their tap and then tell everyone why it's not fit to drink.

Accommodations have also been set up for youth who choose to not have a social media account by providing a number of additional ways to earn hours through water advocacy.

"With lockdown keeping everyone close to home, we wanted to provide a way for youth to do something meaningful, fun, simple and safe," says Balkwill. "In our minds, it's win-win. Students get community service hours and we get the message out that water is for life... not profit."

The truth is, being part of Tap It for Hours is as easy as one, two, three!

Step 1: Follow @wellingtonwaterwatchers on Instagram.

Step 2: Post a video of yourself drinking tap water and tag it with #TapItForHours.

Step 3: Submit the application for hours here.

Students will earn one hour per post -- and two hours per post on World Water Day. They can post once a day. If they choose to post on multiple days, then youth need to create a new video based on a different message or highlighting a different water issue. Check out the WWW website for water issues.

WWW is fighting to eliminate exploitative corporate water bottling. A huge part of that involves reducing demand for bottled water and encouraging more tap water consumption. Youth showing their friends and family that they support drinking tap water is powerful. This work has the potential for youth to educate their friends and family about water issues here at home and around the globe.

Doreen Nicoll is a freelance writer, teacher, social activist and member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.

Image credit: Bluewater Globe/Unsplash

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