What is my Water Footprint?
With so much focus lately being on water conservation and the scarcity of fresh water, most of us have probably heard the term “water footprint” jostled around, but what does it actually mean? What IS our water footprint? How can we measure it? What can we do about it? These are all good questions and worth the time to take a look at each one of them. It is estimated that by 2030 the global demand for water will outstrip water supply by forty percent, so any area where we can conserve water is worth a second look.
First, we need to understand what our water footprint actually is. Our water footprint is the total amount of water we use throughout the day; it includes the water we use directly such as from the tap for drinking water or showering etc., as well as the water we use indirectly. The majority of our water footprint is comprised of indirect water consumption and we never actually see it. In fact, only about 5% of our water footprint is from direct water consumption. The food we eat, the energy we consume and the products we buy are all included in our overall water footprint.
Next, we need to determine how our water footprint is measured. Our water footprint is measured in terms of the volume of water consumed, evaporated and polluted and is divided into three categories: Blue, green and grey
- A Blue Water Footprint is the determined by the amount of groundwater and surface water required to produce a product.
- A Green Water Footprint is the amount of rainwater it takes to produce a product.
- A Grey Water Footprint is the amount of freshwater required to dilute pollutants in order to maintain water quality standards.
Each of these categories are taken into consideration to come up with an overall measure of how much water is used to produce a particular item. The sum of all the goods and services we use each day determines our water footprint. The average American water footprint is nearly 2,000 gallons of water per day!
The final question is how can we reduce our water footprint? The best way is to take a long hard look at our daily lifestyle and what types of goods we consume. Our food is a big contributor to our water footprint; for example, an ounce of beef takes 115 gallons of water to produce, whereas an ounce of chicken takes 32 gallons of water. By replacing some of our beef consumption with chicken we can reduce our water footprint. Waterfootprint.org has a great calculator you can use to determine your own personal water footprint. By getting an overall picture of where you are consuming the most water, you will be able to make some changes to help reduce your overall water footprint.
Write a comment
You need to login to post comments!