World Water Day 2012: How Much Water Do You Use Every Day? (INFOGRAPHIC)
How much water have you used today? It may be more than you think.
On March 22, join the United Nations and individuals across the world in celebrating the 19th annual World Water Day.
According to the U.N., the day is meant to focus "attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources."
As the infographic below shows, hundreds of millions of people lack access to clean water, while some of the most common products and services we use every day require hundreds, if not thousands, of gallons of water to exist.
The message on World Water Day may be clear, but the figures cited below can vary. For example, in 2008, the EPA stated that an average family may actually use up to 400 gallons of water daily. In terms of meat production, PETA suggested that it really takes "more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat."
One thing is certain, however. The proportion of people lacking access to clean water has dropped in recent years. The U.N. announced this week that it met its 2015 safe drinking water goals five years in advance. 11 percent of the world population still lacks access to clean water, but the number of individuals has dropped to 783 million, according to the Associated Press.
Yet the struggle for clean water is far from over. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a statement, "Every day more than 3,000 children die from diarrheal diseases. Achieving this goal will go a long way to saving children's lives."
Matt Damon and Gary White, co-founders of water.org, blogged for HuffPost, "Instead of viewing this [problem] as an ocean of people with their hands out waiting for charity-driven solutions, what if we see many of them, or even most of them, as potential customers." They suggest that microfinance and its "democratizing" effect on "access to capital" may help address world water and sanitation problems.