Practicing Water Awareness

My wife and I took some time this morning to water our ‘urban farm’ where young fruit trees grow roots deep into the ground and carrots push their orange tops above the soil line. I was reminded of the majesty of rain and how much less work it is for us when God’s irrigation system nourishes our plants. It’s easy to take water for granted until the earth cracks and life around us is parched. We have had a good summer here in the Bluegrass of Kentucky with regular storms to keep things growing while also experiencing very little of the flooding that quickly drowns life out of the soil. The more hours I spend in the garden, the more I appreciate this life-giving balance of just enough water but not too much. What an incredible gift from the Creator!

But it is not all good news around our magnificent planet. In the last 12 months, we have seen historic droughts (and flooding) in so many places around the world. Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan had their wheat crops destroyed by sustained drought. Australia, which is an arid continent at the best of times, is still badly affected by a record drought spanning much of the early 2000’s. Closer to home, Texas just experienced its driest 12 months on record (ending in July).

While we may not be able to enact grand plans to prevent this kind of global devastation, there is one thing we can all do. Each and every day we can make a difference by simply paying attention to the way we use water. As we become aware that water is a gift from the Creator, we will change our wasteful habits and we will be formed into the proper stewards we were made to be. Here are a few things we do in our home to foster this kind of awareness:

  • Capture water in rain-barrels for the garden…you can even just put out containers when it rains to water your house plants.
  • Place a tub in your sink to wash dishes…you don’t need a whole sink full of water to wash the dishes!
  • Keep the faucet off while brushing your teeth…this has been a tough habit for us to break but it will save you gallons of water each week.
  • Use a Bucket to capture “grey water” in the shower…our family and friends in Australia habitually place a bucket in the shower that catches water for the garden or lawn.

These practices help conserve a precious resource. They also form us as disciples of Jesus and lovers of this blessed earth. Next time you turn on a faucet, I encourage you to say a prayer of thanks for the precious gift of water.

Geoff Maddock makes his home with his wife, Sherry and 8-year-old son, Isaac in downtown Lexington, KY. He is a missionary in his neighborhood and serves on the board of Seedleaf ( ) while also working part-time for Blessed Earth.

Why I Don’t Drink Bottled Water

During my sophomore year of college, I spent four months studying in France. I had to make many language and cultural adjustments, but one of the biggest surprises was the general lack of public water fountains. As I journeyed across Europe on weekends and vacations, I learned the necessity of carrying a bottle of water. Back home in the U.S., more people than ever are buying bottled water. Even in these difficult economic times, Americans purchase 500 million bottles of water every week! And this is despite the fact that we have near universal access to clean water in the United States (a blessing not afforded to more than a billion of our global neighbors). So why exactly is bottled water so bad? Here are just a few of the many reasons to avoid purchasing bottled water:

• Bottled water costs around 2,000 times more than tap water. As Annie Leonard of points out, that’s like paying $10,000 for a sandwich

• Much of the bottled water on the market today (including Pepsi’s Aquafina and Coca-Cola’s Dasani) is nothing more than filtered tap water

• 2.5 million plastic bottles are thrown into the landfill every hour

• Studies have shown that bottled water is no healthier than tap water in the U.S.

• Over 47 million gallons of oil are used per year to produce bottled water

• Currently only 10% – 20% of water bottles are recycled

• Manufacturers must use an additional 5 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water

My lesson learned traveling the trains of Europe has stuck with me. Anytime our family leaves the house for more than an hour we bring a reusable water bottle (or two or three) with us. When eating out we use our own water bottles when possible, and ask for tap water in nice restaurants where pulling out our Nalgenes might be frowned upon. If we forget, we try to use water fountains. If you want to filter your water, keep a pitcher in the frig and refill it frequently. While it may seem like a small matter whether your family uses tap vs. bottled water, remember this—using tap water both saves money and helps take care of God’s creation.


Brian Webb serves as the Director of Educational Programs for Blessed Earth and is passionate about helping people connect their faith with God’s call to care for his creation. He lives with his wife, Becky, and daughters, Acadia (“Cadie”) and Galilee (“Lilee”), in western New York where he also serves as the Director of Intercultural Student Programs at Houghton College.


The Gift of Water

With so many of our brothers and sisters around the world suffering from the effects of either droughts or floods, I cannot help but think about water–an indispensable building block of life. Our very bodies consist mostly of water. Without water, life on this planet would not exist.

God was extravagant with water–he covered nearly two-thirds of the planet with it. Some people have described the earth as a “water planet.”

But there”s a problem: 97 percent of the water on earth is saltwater–the briny, ocean water we all remember tasting as a child on our first trip to the beach. And there”s a second problem–about 85 percent of our fresh water is locked up in polar icecaps. This means that of all the water on earth, less than one half of one percent is drinkable and accessible to us. Fresh water is relatively rare.

Yet water is so much more than a physical necessity of life. It”s a symbol that Christ uses over and over again to describe himself. Water is God”s symbol of rebirth, his metaphor for resurrection to a new life.

Jesus himself was baptized in the water of the Jordan River as a symbol of what was to come, a physical death and a resurrection to eternal life.

Being a good steward means we must recognizing the powerful role water plays in our lives, physically and spiritually. We must work to bring water to those who have too little, restore the homes of those lost to floods, and conserve water at home.

Your brother in Christ,

Matthew Sleeth, MD

Dr. Sleeth is the executive director of Blessed Earth and is the author of Serve God, Save the Planet (Zondervan, 2007), the introduction to the Green Bible (HarperOne, 2008), and The Gospel According to the Earth: Why the Good Book is a Green Book (HarperOne, 2010).