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5 Gallon Challenge: Could You Do It?

Taking Water for Granted

I’ll be honest: I’m not great at conserving water. It’s not something I think about conserving because I don’t have to. And that’s a blessing, but not everyone has that opportunity. When I watched Virginia’s story, it made me think a little.


“If you shower, the contaminated water is very itchy.” This phrase really stuck out to me. Water is so vital that it basically controls every area of your life. You can’t even rinse your body off without causing another issue. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, the average American family will use 552 gallons of water in one day. The jerry can (pictured below) has quickly become the symbol for the ongoing water crisis all over the world and is commonly used to transport water in developing countries. A jerry can holds 20 liters which is roughly five gallons.

a jerry can being filled with water

I thought to myself:

Could I survive on five gallons of water in one single day?

So I gave it a try. To start, I went to the store and bought five separate gallon jugs and started planning. I labeled one of the gallons “drink” because it’s important to stay hydrated in the Arizona heat. I divided the rest into Morning, Afternoon, Evening and the last one I left blank. I was curious to see which part of the day was the most water-wasting.

Facts Learned During the 5 Gallon Challenge

  1. Every toilet flush uses at least 1.3 gallons of water per flush
  2. For every minute in the shower, 2.5 gallons of water is used
  3. The average dishwasher cycle uses six gallons of water
  4. A single wash machine cycle can use 30+ gallons per cycle

That being said, there were a few areas of water conservation that were beyond my control, though I did keep track!

5 gallon jugs with different levels of water in them

My Findings:

  • My morning used the majority of water because that is when I did most of my cooking and coffee making
  • The afternoon water usage consisted mostly of washing my hands and a small amount of water for my lunch
  • The majority of the evening’s water usage was brushing my teeth, washing my face…etc
  • I flushed about seven times that day and took a three-minute shower post-workout

In total, I only used about two of these gallons, but taking into account seven toilet flushes (9.1 gallons) and a three minute shower (7.5 gallons) my actual total was 18.6 gallons. Had I decided to wash my dishes, do a load of laundry and add five minutes to my shower that would have brought my total to 67.1 gallons. Even more shocking? This is still only 12% of the amount of water the average American family uses in a single day.

This is not to shame us from using the resources we have access to, but to help us understand the extreme blessing it is to have access to clean water. Virginia had struggled her whole life to find clean water, but through your partnership with FH, Virginia’s entire community no longer has to struggle. Learn more about how you can partner with FH and give the gift of clean water today.

Could you do the 5 Gallon Challenge? Tag @food4thehungry on social media to share your story!


Continue Reading:

In Kenya, Clean Water Flows Out of An ATM?

God’s Story: How Clean Water Reveals the Kingdom of God

3 Ways FH Builds Sustainable Clean Water Solutions