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Why I’m Drinking Only Water for 31 Days

A lot of people start off the new year with a cleanse or fast or some sort – you know, to flush out the excess of the holidays and to start a new year refreshed and renewed physically and emotionally.

Personally, I’m not a fan.

I hate fasting (not that anyone loves it), and you won’t catch me with a colon-cleansing product on this side of the century.

With that said, I approached the new year’s fasting season with a fresh idea … at least for me. Instead of just going without, I’m going without so I can give.

As an editor, I have read a lot about social justice organizations that focus on giving access to clean water to developing countries. I’ve heard that it only takes a dollar to provide this clean water – the most basic necessity of human survival – to one person for an entire year. The problem? There are a billion people who need it, and many of those live on less than a dollar a day.

The implications for women and children are worse, as they waste 40 billion hours of labor each year carrying water – which may not even be clean – over long distances. So education and work, which could bring them out of poverty, are no longer options. Survival is the singular goal.

But the problem doesn’t stop there. Living Water International points out that no dollar amount will solve the global water crisis – only competent, responsible implementers will. The organization trains, consults and equips people all over the world to execute the most appropriate, cost-effective integrated water solutions and instructs them on how to teach others to do the same.

There are many organizations out there doing good work. As I started the new year, I thought about the commercialized, materialistic season we just left behind and I thought about man’s most basic need: water. Then I realized how much I take it for granted.

I don’t like exercise. I don’t like to drink water. I don’t like things that make me uncomfortable or that don’t taste good. It’s human nature, and worse than that, it’s the American mindset I’ve chosen to get comfortable with.

So I decided it was time for me to fast. But I chose a fast that’s a little different than most. I’m eating, for one thing, because if I didn’t eat for a month I’m pretty sure some of my bodily organs would begin to shut down. And I would probably go postal before that.

I’m simply choosing to only drink water as opposed to the usual chemicals I soak my body with: Diet Caffeine Free Dr. Pepper (seriously, can a drink with that many words in its name be any good for you?), Tall Skinny Sugar-Free Vanilla Lattes (who am I trying to fool with that one?), milkshakes (my perennial guilty pleasure) and White Grape Juicy Juice (I have a toddler, alright? Cut me some slack.)

So water it is. For a whole month. I'm on day 12 now, and frankly it's been a little harder than I thought it would be. But I'm doing it. And the point of all this? I’m taking the money I would have spent on other drinks and donating it to an organization that’s helping solve the global water crisis.

I’ve found this to be the best motivation I’ve ever had to fast. Every time I grab my Brita pitcher of filtered water, I can’t help but see the face of someone who’s got a whole lot fewer choices than I do in life. And as I pour a glass of water, I fight back any pitiful feelings of deprivation from not being able to grab that orange juice jug. As I drink the pure, clean water, I appreciate its availability in my home. And this month might be the first time I've ever done that.

Learn more about the global water crisis through these organizations and what you can do to help:

Did you do an unusual New Year’s fast? Comment below!

(article originally published on


Great idea, Cara. I had a surreal moment this week, sitting on the SI ferry, reading about those dying for water in Haiti, as I drank crystal clear clean NYC Tap Water from a bottle. I was so humbled, motivated to prayer, and have been simultaneously giving thanks for God's mercy in my life (clean water) and praying for those who are in desperate need now.

My most-effective fast for the new year was a week without an TV or movies. Living alone, this is especially felt at night, when I generally come home and spend some time being entertained, giving my mind a break.

It was an incredibly rich time, and I have not watched much TV or movies since ending that fast. I'm finding that I much prefer to read!!

I'll be curious to know how much you end up giving to the Water charities at the end of your month. I've also placed a moratorium on my take-out, and am instead cooking and freezing individual portions to take to work for lunch. Am saving $20-30 per week this way, and am already feeling that (in a good way). Want to be able to save more and give more to charity in 2010.


Thanks for your comment, Christy ... it is remarkable how much we take for granted - even the fact that I'm making a conscious effort to only drink water, when people are dying without it. I was thinking today about possibly taking the money and giving it to Haiti relief ... but I've already given and I'm thinking that other organizations who don't operate in Haiti will probably see a downturn in donations this quarter now that all eyes are understandably on that country.

That is really interesting about your TV/movie fast. I think everybody has their currency ... the thing that they need to fast to bring balance. I don't think sugar-filled drinks are mine. The fast, overall, hasn't been that painful. But shopping might be. So next month, I might tackle that.

That's something unusual to do on New year's day but it's worthwhile. - Ellerslie Mission Society

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Cara Davis is a writer, editor and the former editorial director for Relevant Media Group. During the past year she has been on a journey of finding a renewed focus for her faith and her life.