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Educate. Empower. Act. The mission of Project WET is to reach children, parents, educators and communities of the world with water education. We invite you to join us in educating children about the most precious resource on the planet — water.
Project WET Japan has been active since 2003. They recently released this new video, which has great visuals of students and teachers taking part in some of Project WET's best-known activities. Although the production is, of course, in Japanese, no additional language skills are necessary to understand the fun and excitement that the Project WET activities generate.
Note: The Project WET USA Network has a team working on the critical issue of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in drinking water. USA Network Executive Director Dr. Laurina Lyle contributed this blog post about some of the resources out there for finding out more about what your personal care products contain and what can be done if you don't like what you find out:
While it's not a good idea to drink your shampoo, the ingredients used to produce not only shampoo but many other personal care products (PCPs) are an increasing problem for drinking water quality. Since most water treatment facilities do not have the capacity to remove many of the chemicals found in PCPs, the chemicals are showing up in drinking water supplies.
A few companies are making great progress in supplying safe consumer products, but with thousands of products out there, how is a person to know what goes into the PCPs they use? There is at least one good place to start: the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep website. This online resource offers a searchable database of 68,807 products and 2,872 brands, covering products from sunscreens to hair gel. Each product is ranked on a scale of 0 - 10, with zero being innocuous to 10 being highly hazardous. The rankings are based a rigorous evaluation process that EWG documents in great detail.
Armed with that knowledge, consumers may also want to take advantage of another service if they discover that some of the products they use are more chemical-laden than they are comfortable with. TerraCycle, a New Jersey-based company, will take back many waste stream items that would otherwise end up in landfills, either "upcycling" or recycling the product. (Upcycling is taking used or useless stuff and converting it into new products.) TerraCycle will take back lipstick cases, mascara tubes, eye shadow cases, shampoo bottles, conditioner bottles, etc., properly dispose of the unused portion and upcycle the containers into plastic pavers. TerraCycle also takes back other waste such as mylar coffee bags, Solo plastic cups, yogurt containers and hundreds of other items. The almost unbelievable part of their campaign is that for many of the products, TerraCycle will send you the shipping box and pay for the postage.
Seattle water flow monitoring manufacturer and designer Seametrics recently published their wide-ranging interview with Project WET CEO and President Dennis Nelson for their blog. In it, Dennis talks about Project WET's history, how water education can lead to conservation, the challenges the world faces around water and much more. Here's an excerpt:
"The fact is that water affects almost all human activity. We can't grow food without water, and most people recognize that, but they may not realize that we also cannot make a pair of jeans or even provide electricity to our homes without water. The "green" bandwagon may be increasingly popular, but that doesn't often include a thought for water. We believe that both individuals and organizations need to consider their "water footprint"-the total volume of water that it takes to produce goods and services and simply live their lives. Explaining what the water footprint is and why it is important is a huge challenge."
Project WET's Latin America & the Caribbean Project Manager Julia Nelson recently returned not from an LAC country but from the island nation of Madagascar, off the eastern coast of Africa. Before joining Project WET, Julia had served in the Peace Corps in Madagascar, giving her ample reason to return. Located in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and also one of the poorest countries. About two-thirds of the population lives on less than USD1.25 per day.
Project WET materials in storage
Project WET first became active in Madagascar in late 2008 and early 2009, delivering approximately 13,000 copies of our water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) materials for distribution to teachers and schools. Unfortunately, a political crisis in March 2009 meant that most of the materials ended up in storage rather than in the hands of children and teachers. Julia, at that time an active PCV not yet working with Project WET, had to be evacuated out of the country in response to the crisis.
In addition to returning to the country that had been her home, Julia also hoped to get Project WET's materials out of storage and into classrooms in Madagascar during her trip. She accomplished that with the help of current Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) in Madagascar and USAID. After meeting with the Peace Corps and with the organizations that have been storing the materials, Julia arranged for the books, posters and booklets to be delivered to Peace Corps Headquarters, where they will be available for current and future PCVs. She also trained several volunteers on how to use the materials in their work.
PCVs try out some Project WET activities
Julia then returned to the village where she had served as a PCV to deliver some materials and to reconnect with the friends she had made during her service. "They don't have cell phones or outside communication so I literally just showed up and started walking down the dirt road until I ran into a friend," she shared. "It was really neat. I walked around and visited many friends who were happy to see me return." She also brought Project WET materials to a local teacher in the village.
Primary school in Madagascar
Not long after her trip, Julia reported that Peace Corps Volunteers were already using the Project WET materials, giving several hundred copies to teachers and students from an elementary school at the Earth Day and 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps event held in Mantasoa, Madagascar. "The youth and teachers just loved them," one of the PCVs said. There are currently over 100 PCVs in Madagascar living in villages throughout most of the island, and all of them have the opportunity to use the materials if they choose.