Wet Feet: Understanding Your Water Footprint

 

Everyone has heard of a carbon footprint, but have you heard of a water footprint?  A water footprint is the total amount of direct and indirect water used by an individual or manufacturer. 

Direct water use is when you turn on a faucet or a hose.  Some examples include brushing teeth, showering, flushing the toilet, washing a car, or watering a garden. 

Indirect water    is needed to produce, grow, or manufacture the items we  use every day. It refers to the water necessary for producing  steel for your car, growing cotton for your jeans, and processing your  hamburger meat. 

Understanding how you contribute to your water footprint is the first step to creating a culture of conservation and protecting water on a    larger scale. For example, did you know that almost 70% of the freshwater withdrawn is used in agriculture to produce everything from beef to wheat? 

Check out this table to learn how much indirect water is used to produce everyday items.

Item

Gallons of Water Required to Produce

1 pound of chocolate

3,170

1 pound of beef

1,799

1 gallon of wine

1,008

1 gallon of milk

880

1 gallon of coffee

880

1 gallon of beer

689

1 pound of chicken

468

1 pound of wheat

134

1 gallon of tea

128

Want to dry up your water footprint a little bit?  Here are some things you can do:

Reduce Your Indirect Water Use:

  • Switch to a morning cup of tea instead of coffee.  It takes 37 gallons of water to produce an 8oz cup of coffee, but only 8 gallons for the same sized cup of tea.

  • Buy only the food you can eat before it goes bad.  Indirect water is needed to produce fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, and dairy.  Anything you throw away is the same as pouring water (and money!) down the drain.

  • Skip the meat in your meal one day a week.  Depending on how far back you go in the production chain, a hamburger can use up to 1,300 gallons of water to produce.

  • Purchase cloth items made with synthetic materials.  Sheets made of 100% cotton requires 300% more water to produce than a 50/50 cotton/polyester blend.

  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  The less we consume, the less water we use.

Reduce Your Direct Water Use:

  • Drop your used tissues into the trash instead of flushing down the toilet and save gallons each time.

  • Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when full and save up to 1,000 gallons a month.

  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and save 25 gallons of water a month.

  • Save water and cut down on laundry by reusing your bathroom towels to dry off with.

  • Take a shower instead of a bath.  A short shower only uses 10-25 gallons, while a bath takes up to 70 gallons.

We can’t create new water; all the water on the earth is all the water that we will ever have on earth. 

We need to conserve and manage our water in order to meet our water needs now and for future generations. 

Learn about your Water Footprint by visiting one of these two sites:

Now go dry your feet.

Originally posted on waterconservationstation.blogspot.com, 11/06/12

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One thought on “Wet Feet: Understanding Your Water Footprint

  1. Pingback: Eco Preservation : Virtual Water : Must know Concept | Propel Steps

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