Water is a part of all our lives, everyday. After all, our bodies are 60% water. This miraculous and yet ubiquitous liquid can be the simple cure for a hangover or it can be, when contaminated, a horrific disease-causing problem. The question of water's existence on Mars and other planets is a determining factor of whether humans will be able to settle in space. But closer to our earthly home and earthly bodies, water is the key ingredient of so many foods as well as bathing rituals across history, time, and place. It is social and yet personal. Water is a literary symbol of purification, cleansing, and - transformation. Our brief study and celebration of water this month of March pays homage to how essential this liquid is to humanity and Mother Earth. We celebrate water with the stone so energetically associated with the month of March - aquamarine.  




We are in the midst of a global crisis.

But I’m not talking about the one you think I’m talking about.

As the current pandemic touches all aspects of our lives, there is another, deep-seated problem that we may forget about, at times.

The clean water crisis manifests itself differently in different places, but make no mistake: it is a global problem.




Some have no running water or no access to a toilet at home. Others have to travel miles, daily, just to collect a few gallons. Still others use water lavishly with no knowledge of the fact that many of the groundwater reserves we rely on are drying out as water is pumped out at a higher rate than can naturally be replenished. And others only have access to water permeated with chemicals, heavy metal toxins, or dangerous bacteria.

Millions live - and die - with these water worries, in places like Laos, India, Ecuador, Indonesia… and the United States of America. California. Michigan. Texas. Arizona. Puerto Rico. The Navajo Nation. Just to name a few.

When listing problems the US faces today, clean water and sanitation might not immediately come to mind. One might think that, at least, we’d have down by now.

Yet more than two million people in the US live without access to clean water or plumbing.

Up until the 19th century, standing pools of water and improper plumbing were a huge source of disease around the world, although many did not know it. Scientists bounced competing ideas off each other to find out exactly how illnesses like cholera, typhoid, and yellow fever spread. The idea that they might be water-borne did not cross many minds, as scientists instead focused on the atmosphere, trying to discover if diseases spread through “bad air” or miasmas.

Then, in 1854, Dr. John Snow traced a London cholera outbreak to a single water pump, by mapping out the number of infections and finding the common denominator. At the time, many in the medical establishment did not believe him, but it was nevertheless a breakthrough - helping to kickstart the sanitation movement that began in the 1800s.

The discovery of germs as the cause of disease led to new methods of decontamination and disinfection - such as boiling, filtering, and the addition of chlorine - which revolutionized water distribution and consumption. As a result of these sanitation reforms, the instances of water- and mosquito-borne disease were immensely reduced in the United States and Europe.

Germs are not the only sort of harmful substances that make their way into our drinking water. Industrial and agricultural chemicals can contaminate the water supply through runoff. Plastics, heavy metals like lead and uranium, and arsenic are also routinely found in water supplies across the US, as was recently the case in Flint, Michigan. Even the chlorine we use to disinfect the water can under the right circumstances bind with other substances or chemicals already present in the water, creating harmful byproducts. Legislation like the Safe Drinking Water Act in the US aims to prevent future contamination, but it is not evenly enforced, especially not in rural, low-income areas or areas supplied by private wells.

Additionally, even though instances of disease outbreaks like cholera and yellow fever have been drastically reduced in the US, E. coli, Legionella, and norovirus are still found in the water supply more often than one would hope.

SOURCES Flint Water Crisis Fast Facts Water Stress in the U.S. Across the U.S., millions of people are drinking unsafe water A Map of the Future of Water Closing the Water Access Gap




The clean water crisis does not look the same in any two places. That arid areas of the Southwest suffering from water-stress and drought experience difficulty in providing enough water to their residents may not come as a surprise. But even some states like Florida and Louisiana - which are surrounded, and, at times, quite literally inundated by the stuff - face infrastructure problems which make consistently providing uncontaminated water a demanding endeavor. This has become an especially evident and pressing problem after the recent winter storm which blasted Southern states, like Texas, as much of the water infrastructure...




... in such places does not often have to contend with - and, in some cases, was not made to withstand - freezing temperatures.

Whether water-stressed or water-saturated, each location faces unique challenges. The Navajo Nation (which spans parts of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico) and the Pueblo peoples have experienced particular difficulties. Although Indigenous tribes are considered sovereign nations by the US government, they rely on agreements brokered by the federal government to gain access to water. However, these water rights agreements are not always uniformly nor fairly upheld, and infrastructure projects often do not take reservations into account.

We often hear of well-building projects to benefit rural communities in Africa or Asia. But we needn’t go nearly so far to encounter the problem of thirst and sanitation. Today, Indigenous households are 19 times more likely to lack indoor plumbing than white households (according to the US WaterAlliance). Some reservations still rely on well water, while other communities must travel miles every day to gather water to use at home for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing.

In a time of global pandemic, when our lives have been engulfed by phrases like “wash your hands” and “stay home,” it can be easy to condemn those who fail to do this. But given the prevalence of water inequality, these are not easy things for everyone to do. How can you stay home if your only water source is miles away? How can you wash your hands after every risk activity when you must ration the few gallons of water you have? What do you give up, then? Tooth-brushing? Laundry? Drinking water? This is part of the reason Indigenous communities have been particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some organizations have offered bottled-water donations to those who cannot access water during the pandemic. But, although helpful in the moment, this cannot be a long-term solution. Aside from being unsustainable from an ecological standpoint, it is impossible to continuously supply water this way, and unjust to make people rely on donations for something so indispensable.

In such unprecedented times, in your home is a good place to be - if you can stay there. But as with all living beings, water decides when and whether we live. It cradles our civilizations and makes our bodies run. It is not something that we can take for granted at any time.

Let’s make in your body a good place to be, by making in your home a good place to be - for everyone.

Because water is dignity, and everyone deserves dignity - unconditionally.

SOURCES Flint Water Crisis Fast Facts Water Stress in the U.S. Across the U.S., millions of people are drinking unsafe water A Map of the Future of Water

Photo The Navajo Are Fighting to Get Their Water Back

Photo Over 14 million Texans are still without safe water Closing the Water Access Gap




More than 70% of Earth's surface is covered in water. But only 3% of that water is freshwater. Most of the freshwater that does exist is unreachable: found in the atmosphere, the polar icecaps, or far under the Earth's surface. Only 0.3%-0.5% of the Earth's water is fresh, useable, and available for human demand.

By 2025, half of the global population will be living in a water-stressed area.





Millions travel long distances - sometimes multiple times a day - just to access fresh water. Often, it is women and girls who do this trek, carrying 5-gallon jugs, which weigh about 40 pounds when full. Five gallons might sound like a lot of water, but...


Drinking? Showering? Cooking? Washing dishes? Washing clothes? Watering plants? Brushing teeth? Washing hands?

You may have thought of cooking, but what about the food you cook with?

You may have thought about flushing, but what about the toilet paper?

You may have thought about machine washing, but what about the clothes themselves?


Drinking = 1 gallon/day

Showering = 17 gallons/8 minutes

Cooking = 1 gallon/day

Dishwasher = 5-15 gallons/load

Toilet = 1.5 gallon/flush

Washing hands or Brushing teeth (& any faucet use) = 1-2 gallons/minute


So, does 5 gallons still sound like a lot of water?

What is the water footprint of your everyday routine? Can you go a day where you only use 40 gallons? 20? 10? Keep in mind: just like a spoon might not just be a spoon, a t-shirt might not just be a t-shirt.


1 cup of coffee = 34 gallons

1 orange = 14 gallons

1 egg = 52 gallons

6 oz. steak = 674 gallons

1 roll of toilet paper = 37 gallons

1 t-shirt = 660 gallons

1 gallon of gasoline = 3 to 6 gallons

1 car = 14,000-22,000 gallons

Water is beautiful. Water is precious. Water is scarce.

Be mindful to conserve our Earth's water.








Water isn’t just H20. Water is dignity. Water is life. Water is education.

Water is education? Yes, it may sound strange, but hear me out. For millions of students worldwide, water and education are inextricably linked. Here’s why:

First: children, especially girls, who live in water-stressed areas often have no choice but to spend hours each day travelling to a water-source just so that their families can meet day-to-day needs.

In fact, women and girls spend an estimated 200 million hours each day carrying water.




These are 200 million hours that cannot be spent in primary school, or in college, or in gainful employment. Today, many of us find ourselves at home: juggling jobs, childcare, housework, homework, and mental health - not to mention sleep. But what if there were a required daily two- or three-hour walk carrying a 40-pound water-jug thrown into the mix? Our time is one of our most valuable resources. But many must give it up - along with the right to an education - to haul an even more essential resource.

A fascinating fact to go with this: the loss of education and opportunity does not just affect the women and children whose lives and livelihoods are impacted first hand. It affects every single one of us (“us” being every person in the world, in this scenario), and much more directly than one might think. On nonprofit Project Drawdown’s list of the 100 most effective ways to reverse climate change by reducing global emissions, educating girls is number six. It ranks above rainforest restoration, recycling, and electric cars (which are all still of paramount importance, we must note).

Second: globally, 31% of schools do not have access to clean water. In Laos, that number is 34%, among primary schools. When schools don’t have access to water and sanitation infrastructure - such as toilets - enrollment, attendance, and retention rates can plummet, especially among girls after puberty.  

Around 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related illnesses, which affect both students and teachers.

Third: it’s not just that water is education. Education is water, too - clean water, to be specific. By their very definition, schools exist to share knowledge. For this reason, they are a key puzzle-piece in preventing waterborne diseases, which can spread due to a lack of sanitation, which, in turn, can occur due to a lack of information.

Education is agency and empowerment. It is a grounding hearthstone and untethered wing. It is hope for a better future and a kinder, healthier, more-just world.  

And access to water is a human right. Justice should not depend on geography.


SOURCES Health and Education Want to fight climate change? Educate a girl Water, Sanitation & Hygiene and Climate Change Resilience Clean water Global water crisis



Water is not just essential: it is the very essence of life. For millennia, bodies of water have been wellsprings of human civilization. Water is biologically necessary, but it is so much more than that. Water unites us across geographical and cultural boundaries - the source of innumerable rituals and practices. You have probably heard of the Finnish sauna. Here are some other bathing practices from around the world you might not have heard of:





This detoxifying steamy, social bath practice is similar to the sauna - and has a similarly snowy home, too! Visitors to the banya bathe in the nude, except for felt hats worn to regulate the head's temperature in the heat. Venik, or birch branch switches (sometimes containing eucalyptus leaves), are gently used to increase circulation and perspiration. The magnificent Saduny banya in Moscow has been around since the time of Empress Catherine the Great.


As in many cultures, hot springs are the source of one of Japan's most popular bathing practices. Naturally-occurring and geothermically-heated, onsen are usually relatively quiet. Bathers wash before entering the springwater. Because of their volcanic nature, some onsen contain minerals which are believed to provide health benefits.


Unlike the banya and onsen, the hammam has both steam and cool-water bathing. After changing into a loincloth, visitors enter the main room, where they are vigorously scrubbed and massaged by an attendant. The visit often ends with a cool shower and a warm cup of tea. Although traditionally found in areas once ruled by the Ottoman Empire, Turkish baths have made their mark across the globe, from India all the way to Spain and Portugal - and even to Great Britain during the Victorian era.


The Thai and Lao people greet the New Year, or Songkran, with a cleansing ritual where they sprinkle (or souse) one another with water as a sign of blessings and good will. This is not quite a bathing practice like the others, but that is exactly the point. Water is symbolic not just of purity, renewal, and transformation, but also of the differences that make us unique and the common currents that bind us together.


You might not be able experience some of these bathing practices without visiting their country of origin. But here are some you can try at home, while being kind to yourself and the Earth as well as remaining considerate of other cultures.


Many practices have steam or hot water, but swimming in cold temperatures is amazing for your body too! Habitual cold-water swimming can slightly boost your white blood cell count and pain threshold as your body adjusts to conditions. Cardio also releases endorphins and reduces stress. Just make sure to listen to your body if it feels like too much.


Swimming in frigid temperatures sound a bit drastic? Jumping in and right back out again can be just as invigorating.


No conveniently-located freezing body of water? No worries! A cold shower can give you many of the same benefits. Plus, it's better for the Earth and lowers your energy bill! try at home.

Water brings out what there is to be celebrated among us.











You’ve probably heard a version of the saying: nothing important is ever simple. Sustainability is not just about the environment, although that is one important facet. It is also about the socio-cultural and the economic. A sustainable community - just such as the one we are working to build in rural Laos - must support all three. They are inextricably interlinked; we cannot pick and choose, nor would we want to.

One aspect of the complexity, power, and potential beauty of a sustainable world: water. Essential to life and living, it is an integral component in any discussion of the environment, society, or economy. Even more than that, water is present in the culture of almost every community on earth, a natural element to be both revered and feared. It is within us, both biologically and spiritually. It features in our oral and written histories, mythologies, and religions. Floods and droughts are recounted long into the future. Laos is affected by both.




The Mekong River is the longest in Southeast Asia and its basin spans six countries - most notably, Laos. It is one of the most biodiverse river basins in the world, second only to the Amazon, and its fisheries support tens of millions of people. It is surrounded by fertile wetlands. But it is also facing threats to its biodiversity. It is prone to sometimes-devastating floods, and climate change is not helping. And despite the river’s riches, many who inhabit the basin still live in poverty.

Using the Mekong River as an example, floods and droughts show how the social becomes the economic. Water - whether too much or too little - determines harvests, crop yields, and - in the case of the Mekong River - a large portion of the country’s transportation. Thus, the floods and droughts affect agriculture and industry - the roots of many Southeast Asian economies. These, in turn, shape the environment. Chemical runoff and greenhouse gas emissions get into the groundwater and the river water and the rain. This affects those people who drink the water and bathe in it and wash with it. Additionally, those who interact with untreated water and lack access to sanitation can be exposed to water- and mosquito-borne diseases. And just like that, we’ve come all the way back around to the social.

The good news is, if done conscientiously and in direct dialogue with the needs of the people, (as ARTICLE22 strives to do) fixing a problem with one of these facets can often help with the other two. In listening to the needs of the Earth and her people, feared water forces can be a boon instead of a burden. For example, grassroots hygiene education can support sanitation improvements; and the foundations of sanitation can, in return, support all education. This alone supports society, the economy, and the environment.

River infrastructure is another way to support society and the economy. It can prevent floods and drought-related famine through projects such as agricultural and forest irrigation. And it can further support the environment when paired with sustainable ventures into hydropower. Importantly, this also has the capability to bring electricity to the many in Laos who still live without it.

Quality of life and a healthy economy don’t have to be juxtaposed. In fact, they can support each other. The circle of life and a circular economy fit together like two links in a chain; and that chain is the chain reaction of goodness.


SOURCES Basin-Wide Needs, Challenges and Opportunities People

Photo by MoreToTheShell on Pixabay Greater Mekong




Aquamarine is a stone that grants clarity and empowerment on one’s life journey. Derived from, “aqua” and “mare,” which mean water and sea, it holds great elemental power, ruling the emotional body that water represents. It’s color of bright aqua activates movement which is a cleansing power and opens channels of communication. Known in mythology to activate the energy of Poseidon, the Greek God of the Seas, sailors would wear the stone as a talisman carrying protection while at sea. Being that the moon rules the planetary tides, it creates magnetism and ease through change. Aquamarine rules the throat chakras and the birth month of March.

Photo from Dewberry's Herbal Apothecary

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