Talking Point: Surviving on five litres of water

Could you manage on just 5 litres of water per day?

Could you manage on just five litres of water per day?

For World Water Day, and to raise awareness of the global inequality in safe drinking water and water scarcity in many parts of the world, One Water challenged a number of people to manage a whole day of water use on just five litres. In this blog Andrew Selley, Chief Executive of Bidfood (previously Bidvest Foodservice) describes his day.

Could you manage on just five litres of water per day?

Recently I tried to do just that as part of the 5 Litre Challenge from One Water, which asks you to live for a day on just five litres of water. This includes all your drinking, cooking and washing needs. To put that into perspective, the average person in the UK uses 150 litres a day.

Charity Partnerships

This challenge formed part of Bidfood’s campaign to mark the 10-year anniversary of our partnership with One Water – the UK’s leading ethical drinks brand – and raise awareness of the global water crisis. As part of the initiative over 150 employees across our business took part in the 5 Litre Challenge, as well as other fundraising activities such as African-themed lunches and sponsored walks. Funds were raised for the ‘Give Water Give Life’ campaign, and most of the activities we ran on World Water Day on 22nd March. 

Charity partnerships and initiatives such as this are an effective way to raise awareness of sustainability and CSR issues, such as water consumption and waste, amongst both hotel employees and guests. In a hotel environment, where water usage and waste levels are typically high, making people more aware of the amount of water they use is particularly important.

My experience of the 5 Litre Challenge

For me, the 5 Litre Challenge was hugely thought-provoking. The mere act of carrying around the five litre jerry can made me much more aware of how much I was using for daily tasks like brushing my teeth, washing my hands and cooking. Whilst I did finish the day with around 750ml leftover, it still made me realise how much we take water for granted… it’s not surprising to learn that the average person in the UK uses 150 litres a day. I cut out daily activities to only use my five litres and still used nearly all of it. This is the difference between taking on the challenge for one day and the reality for many who don’t have access to clean water and are carrying water for several hours each day to meet the needs of their family. We have a choice in how to use and access our water, but millions of people across the world do not have that choice.

Making charity partnerships work for your hotel

It may be that activities such as the 5 Litre Challenge are not practical in the day to day reality of a busy hotel environment. However, there are a number of simple and effective processes you can put in place to help raise awareness of the global water crisis and make staff and guests more aware of the water levels they use. A previous Talking Point blog referenced tips like encouraging guests to re-use their towels and training staff on how to advise guests on cutting their water usage. Information posters could also be displayed in bathrooms, employee areas and kitchens. Compelling facts such as brushing your teeth with the tap on uses six litres and an eight-minute shower uses 62 litres can act as a reminder to guests, who are even less likely to consider their water consumption when staying away from home. We know that in some countries guests typically use ten times more water daily than is usual for local people.

A strategic partnership, such as Bidfood’s with The One Foundation, can also effectively engage employees in supporting a charity which aligns to the values of your hotel’s sustainability strategy. Encouraging employees to engage in fundraising activities like the 5 Litre Challenge, will help to boost morale and promote the important messages of the chosen charity and its cause. In our case, through our partnership with The One Foundation we’re committed to helping transform the lives of the 663 million people across the world who still don’t have access to clean water. For more information on The One Foundation and the 5 Litre Challenge, please visit:

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