Donate by SavingThere are countless efforts around the globe working to improve living conditions for those in extreme poverty. While per capita, Americans are the biggest charitable givers on Earth, charitable contributions can be increased. By cutting back on everyday living expenses, it is possible to donate by saving money.

Alternatives to Buying Bottled Water

Drinking water is a healthy habit, but bottled water is costly and creates single-use plastic waste.

One way to donate by saving is buying a reusable water bottle. For instance, the reusable Dopper bottle donates 5 percent of every purchase to the Dopper Foundation, an organization working to improve water resources in Nepal.

Upon saving money on single-use bottles, the amount saved can be diverted to a charitable cause. The average American spends around $266 on disposable water bottles, which can add up to over $17,000 in a lifetime. Those savings could be donated to support the work of organizations like Water is Life which pledges to provide clean drinking water to a billion people by 2020.

Water is Life helps communities around the world gain access to clean water through many means, including filters and wells. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the organization sent filtration straws and portable filtration systems to the hardest-hit parts of the island. Currently, it is working on installing 40 solar-and-wind-powered water filtrations stations in the northwest part of the country. The stations are capable of providing 20,000 liters of drinking water a day.

Credit Card Fee Avoidance

A recent survey of 200 U.S. credit cards found that credit cards average 4.35 fees per card. Furthermore, every card in the survey charged at least one fee.

No-fee cash-back cards are available. Card issuers will also offer a cost break to customers with a long series of on-time payments by lowering their interest rates, waiving the very occasional late fee, or both.

Trading in a big-annual-fee card, asking for late waivers and lowering interest rates can save cardholders $100 – 200 per year. The amount saved is almost enough to fund a grant to a Kenyan or Ugandan entrepreneur through Village Enterprise, which can transform the lives of a family living in poverty.

Since its founding in 1987, Village Enterprise has trained more than 154,000 owners who have gone on to create 39,000 businesses. One such success story is Angela Adeke, a Ugandan woman who was denied the opportunity to attend school due to her family’s extreme poverty. After her own children were denied entry to school because they could not afford uniforms, Adeke took action. With the help of a $150 grant, she invested in fabric and sewing machines for her tailoring business. Adeke sewed her own children’s uniforms and made uniforms for more than 4,000 Ugandan children. She now trains disenfranchised young women to become tailors.

Household Maintenance

The average family spends $6,649 on home maintenance. From major repairs to even the price of lawn mowing, it all adds up. A recent survey from Homeadvisor shows that 72 percent of new home buyers are learning how to do their own repairs. Video tutorials are now available online for most projects, enabling families to save on expenses.

The savings can be donated to a charity like Heifer International, an organization that helps families help themselves. The organization has been active in 25 countries, helping more than 32 million families to overcome poverty and hunger. In Nepal, projects targeting women have contributed to improved gender equality. Nine out of 10 of the families in Nepal interviewed say they had increased their income as a result of Heifer International projects, and it is possible to donate by saving on expenses as manageable household maintenance.

Trimming the Food Bill

Most Americans spend nearly half of their monthly food budget on eating out. By preparing more meals at home and packing a lunch more often, these funds can be diverted to donations. A conservative estimate is that preparing one meal per week instead of eating out will save more than $800 per year. These savings can fight worldwide hunger when diverted to an organization like The Hunger Project (THP).

The Hunger Project works to end hunger through strategies that are sustainable, grassroots and women-centered. Mozambican citizen Moises Fenias Malhaule is an example of a THP success story: Malhaule joined THP education and microfinance programs, and in ten years, he has expanded his farm and paid for his children’s education. Malhaule has also taken many courses in development and construction and shared his knowledge with his community. Donations to organizations like this not only help individuals but often have ripple effects, making entire villages more resilient and self-sufficient.

Organizations like Water is Life, Village Enterprise, Heifer International and The Hunger Project are making a considerable impact in global poverty reduction, but their work relies on financial contributions.  While finding the extra money to donate can be challenging, with a few lifestyle tweaks, it is entirely possible to donate by saving money.

– Francesca Singer 
Photo: U.S. Air Force

the drinkable book
When Theresa Dankovich began researching the sanitizing potential of silver nanoparticles in 2008, little did she know that her work would contribute to “The Drinkable Book.” The book is actually a filtration kit equipped with a filter box and a book with pages that offer sanitation advice and function as filter sheets.

Designed by researchers at the University of Virginia, Carnegie Mellon University and WATERisLIFE (a nonprofit dedicated to providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene services worldwide,) “The Drinkable Book” operates as a cheap purification kit that eliminates 99.9 percent of bacteria found in water — comparable to the quality of tap water in the U.S. Each page from the book can filter up to 100 liters of water, and each book has 20 sheets of paper. That’s enough clean water to last one person’s needs for four years, WATERisLIFE claims.

But how does it work exactly? The book is printed like any other, except the pages are lined with silver nanoparticles, which costs only a few extra cents. As needed, one can rip out a half-sheet of paper from the book, place it in the filter box, which also serves as the book’s cover, and allow the silver ions to attach to and kill harmful bacteria. The water seeps through the paper, leaving it safe to drink. Tips for clean drinking are also printed on every sheet with food-grade ink.

Dankovich, the chemist who conceived the idea, says the product is one of the cheapest ways to make water safe to drink. “It doesn’t require power and it’s very intuitive,” she said.

Last year, Dankovich field-tested the product in South Africa, and she now plans to take it to Ghana for more tests. “Our main goal is to reduce the spread of diarrheal diseases, which result from drinking water that’s been contaminated with things like E. coli and cholera and typhoid,” Dankovich said.

For the 3.4 million people who die each year from water-related diseases, the innovative product offers renewed hope. It’s cheap to produce, inventive and one of the niftiest products WATERisLIFE has seen in recent years.

“The Drinkable Book” has the potential to enhance the lives of an untold number of individuals worldwide. But the implications don’t stop there. Women spend a collective 200 million hours a day to find and collect water that is safe to drink. If those same women had access to “The Drinkable Book,” millions of hours would be saved — hours that could be used for work, education and social activities to enrich and extend the lives of family members.

– Joseph McAdams

Sources: Wired, NPR, Adweek,
Photo: Wired

Water is Life founder Ken Surritte was on a well-drilling trip to Africa in 2007 when he realized the limitations of using this method of providing clean water alone. After building a well for an orphanage outside of Kisumu, Kenya, Surritte was surprised to find that kids were still getting sick. The culprit was a “drinking fountain” at the local school which was actually a stagnant pond. Surritte wondered what he could give kids to take to school with them, and the idea for a portable filtration straw was born.

884 million people around the world do not have access to clean water, resulting in 6,500 deaths from waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera, dysentery, E-coli, guinea worms, and diarrhea every day.  Children under five are at the greatest risk. In fact, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among this age group in the world, and a child dies every 21 seconds from this preventable disease.

Water is Life is a nonprofit that works to distribute its WiL filtration straws to communities in need across the world. The straws, which are made of a hard plastic and measure ten inches long and one inch in diameter, come on a lanyard for easy transport. The straws use a combination of membrane filters, iodine crystals, and charcoal filters to purify water, filtering out harmful waterborne illnesses and particles as small as 15 microns. The WiL straws work just like an ordinary straw: users place the straw in a water source and suck, drawing water through the filtration components until clean water reaches the mouth. They can clean a minimum of 800 liters of water, and on average, a straw will last one person a year. The straws clog internally when no longer effective. These life saving devices cost only ten dollars each.

The WiL straw is just the first part of a comprehensive plan to provide sustainable clean-water solutions to communities around the world, and is meant to provide immediate relief to communities while longer-term solutions are sought. After straws are distributed by Water is Life teams on the ground, the teams get to work evaluating and developing a plan to provide a sustainable, pure water source within one year, using technologies like wells and point-of-use filters. Teams also provide hygiene and sanitation education in community centers and village schools. This unique “crawl, walk, run” approach allows for immediate intervention and long-term prevention of waterborne illnesses, saving lives now and in the future.

Water is Life has been hugely successful in the four short years since it began distribution of straws and implementation of its sanitation programs. The non-profit has worked in North and South America, Asia, and the Middle East, distributing over 60,000 straws in 32 countries, and has plans to grow the program.

For those looking to get involved, Water is Life provides many volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups, ranging from speaking at schools to get students involved with campaigns, to repackaging filters at the organization’s Oklahoma office, to traveling to help distribute WiL straws and other life-saving materials on the ground. Have the money, but not the time? Just ten dollars provides someone in need with immediate and long-term access to clean drinking water. Check out for more ways to help.

– Sarah Morrison
Sources: Water is Life, Oklahoma City News
Photo: Seasons for Life

“I hate it when I tell them no pickles and they still give me pickles,” are among the first world problems chosen by the charitable organization Water is Life to be read by third world children. Labeled First World Problems Anthem, the video is meant to raise awareness of Water for Life’s efforts to provide clean drinking water to impoverished countries. It does this by starkly contrasting the two perspectives of what constitutes a problem in each walk of life.

Rich in very dark satire, Water for Life presents a hard hitting video of children in impoverished conditions reciting complaints such as “[I hate] when my mint gum makes my ice water taste too cold,” which is said by a child in what looks to be a boarding house for kids. All of the gripes read in the video have been chosen from the Twitter hashtag First World Problems. Water for life hopes this video will assist the organization in battling poor water sanitation.

According to UNICEF, poor water sanitation is among the leading causes of illness and death in the world. To combat this, Water for Life is providing a water purifier called “The Straw.” The Straw works to filter out waterborne diseases such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery, and guinea worm. By donating $10 to Water is Life, members of the first world can send this water purifier to a community in need of clean potable water.

– Pete Grapentien

Source Huffington Post