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Blog, Bucknell, Class, Philosophy or Ethics, Social Science

Clean water – Don’t take it for granted!


I found the story of Seth Maxwell, one of the 2011 Do Something Awards Finalists, to be particularly inspiring.  Seth, a 22 year-old college graduate from Los Angeles, CA, learned from a friend that almost 1 billion people lack access to clean water and that water-borne illnesses account for more than 80% of all global disease.  He found this information troubling and immediately decided to do something about it.

He began what became known as the Thirst Project in March of 2008.  Seth, along with eight of his friends, was committed to making a difference.  They invested all their cash – about $70 in total – and purchased 1,000 bottles of water.  They distributed the free water on Hollywood Blvd. and began educating the public, through informal conversations, about the clean water crisis.  In a single day, they raised awareness and more than $1,700 in donations!

From there, the project took off.  The group began speaking at schools and churches, spreading their message.  It was official – the Thirst Project became a reality.  Check out the video clip for more info!

Today, the movement created by young people is raising awareness of and bringing solutions to the global water crisis.  It combines an Education Outreach Program and water well implementation. The Thirst Project has completed 392 freshwater development projects across the globe, providing over 34,000 people with safe, clean water.  Also, it has reached 200,000 American students with its educational programs.

From a business, government, and society perspective, the Thirst Project represents an individual’s campaign for social change.  The reality is that the world’s resources are unequally distributed.  In fact, 20% of the world’s population consumes more than 80% of the earth’s resources, while the other 80% consume less than 20%.  In order to have a sustainable global economy, it must be based on an ethical model that supports humanity’s interdependence.

Following Seth’s example, we need to ensure that the world’s essential resources are made accessible to all.  Countries and multinational corporations must move beyond their pursuits of self-interest and competition, and embrace an alternative approach to managing the world’s resources more equitably.  In this way, we can create sustainable global change.

If you’re interested in learning more or contributing to the project…Visit www.ThirstProject.org.

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Discussion

7 thoughts on “Clean water – Don’t take it for granted!

  1. Most people think of our generation as the lazy generation, always thinking about “me, me, me.” It is refreshing and inspiring to hear young people taking initiative and trying to make a change in the world. I think it hits home to me because Seth Maxwell, when he started the project, is around our age. Maybe someone in our class will try to invoke social change upon graduation?!

    Posted by Dana Silverstein | February 22, 2012, 11:25 am
  2. Water is without a doubt the most important thing humans need in order to survive. It’s amazing how easy it is to take advantage of the most basic things in life like water. We have all been so fortunate to have grown up with easy access to free and clean water. Not many places have this luxury, and it especially becomes apparent when traveling outside of the U.S. I think it’s wonderful when people like Seth Maxwell not only help others, but give the help where it’s needed the most. Sending water bottles is a great idea, but companies should aim to target and fix the root of the problem in order to achieve long term results.

    Posted by Jenna | February 22, 2012, 2:17 pm
  3. Lauren, do you think that supplying clean water to the 80% of the world that lacks it is the responsibility of the government or of business? I am referring to Donaldson’s rights of corporate obligations. Since business is more international, corporations are in contact with some of the 80% of people that lack water either through employment our by their location. Do you think that Donaldson believes that corporations need to supply clean water to the areas that they are located since they are responsible to avoid depriving the right of subsistence?

    Posted by Amanda Skonezney | February 22, 2012, 3:03 pm
  4. I think companies don’t have a duty to supply clean water to the places in which they are located. Companies should be focusing on profits, and making sure they aren’t helping to deprive others are necessities. But they have no duty to make sure people have food and water so that they can survive. The people getting paid for working in these corporations have money for survival, and that is really all the company should concern themselves with. If a company decides to divert funds to helping the poor obtain drinking water, this could cost millions if not more. The company would be putting iself at a compettive disadvantage because competitors would not have to worry about this loss of capital. I also think that, because of recent worldwide financial problems, corporations need to start investing as much as they did in the last decade. We need to fix our own problems before we can worry about third world countries and their problems. I know that I might be coming off as very selfish in this comment, but there have been many situations I’ve heard about in this country of people without jobs who also struggle to put food on the table or pay rent each month. These people lost their jobs and were at the mercy of the mutinational corporations. These corporations need to fix our unemployment rates before they can worry about those who carry little to none stakeholder value.

    Posted by Ben K. | February 22, 2012, 3:43 pm
  5. I think it is amazing how so many young people are starting movements for social change nowadays. The statistics given in the video are very striking, and I think hearing a young person speak so passionately about the issue is a very effective tool for promoting change. I think the video also shows the power of innovation in society today. These college students had no idea the effect they would have, but by going out and handing out water bottles they have been able to give 30,000 people clean water. It is truly amazing. I agree with Ben about the duties of the multinational corporation. I think it would be extremely costly to put such an effort into this cause, and that corporations should be focused on earnings. I believe it is more of a responsibility for society as a whole to fund these movements and create change in the world.

    Posted by alyssakinell | February 22, 2012, 4:06 pm
  6. I agree that it is asking a lot for corportions to supply clean water to the inhabitants of the countries in which they are located. I think it terms of Donaldson, this would fit under the 3rd duty of “aiding those who are deprived” and he does not see it as a corporation’s obligation to fulfill this duty as they are not directly doing the depriving. It is beyond the legitimate scope of what a corporation can afford to do and what is fair for the corporation to be asked to do (affordability-fairness concept).

    Posted by Lauren McGuiggan | February 22, 2012, 5:59 pm
  7. I too do not think it is the corporation’s responsibility to provide clean water to the community in which they operate. Governments should take care of this. But if the government is not supplying its citizens with clean water, is the corporation operating in that country helping the depriver? This seems sort of similar to Hartman’s argument. Anyhow, I think its great that young people are starting movements to better the lives of others.

    Posted by Lauren Daley | February 22, 2012, 10:10 pm

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