Flushing the toilet

Kuva: Peter Culley

The average Finn uses 170 litres of tap water every day. This water is used for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and sanitation needs. The United Nations says that a human being needs 50 litres of water per day to live adequately. Many Africans are forced to get by with only 20 litres per day. Let me put that into some perspective.

DIRTY WATER – the water an African gets every day is not necessarily clean water. Finns, and especially Laplanders, have the cleanest water in the world. In fact, the water we get from our taps has been tested to be of better quality than most bottled water brands. A couple of years ago, I met a gentleman from Europe who relocated to Lapland for health reasons. As his house in Lapland was in a remote area, water had to be sourced from a well. Because his water supply sounded a little primitive, he sent a sample of the well water to a top water research facility in Switzerland. After testing the water sample, they called him to say they have never seen water so clean.

HIKING – getting water involves an African walking an average of six kilometres per trip. We only walk to the tap. If we would have to walk the same distance to get our water, the average Finn would have to walk about 30 kilometres each day to satisfy their current consumption. Do you have time to do that?

LAKES – Africa has 677 lakes and Finland has 187,888 lakes. Africa is around a hundred times bigger than Finland. History has witnessed thousands of wars over water and more are expected in the future. For as long as I can remember, Finland has always marketed itself as the ‘Land of a Thousand Lakes’. Perhaps we should keep quiet about this?

MEAT EATERS AND VEGETARIANS – taking into account the various products and services we use, an average meat eater in Finland uses around 5,000 of litres of water every day, whereas the average vegetarian uses half this amount. That’s a lot of water. If everyone used the same amount of water we do, we would need around three more Earths.

Globally, around three thousand people die every day due to a lack of clean water.

Next time you flush the toilet, remember that the water you use daily to neatly and conveniently remove your urine and excrement would keep two people alive in sub-Saharan Africa. Don’t forget that the water we use to flush our toilets is also the cleanest drinking water in the world.

For all you racists out there, this doesn’t mean you’re killing two Africans every time you flush the toilet.