12 Fascinating Truths About Humanity’s Water Footprint
12 Fascinating Truths About Humanity’s Water Footprint
We tend to underestimate water, not realising the massive impact it has in all areas of life. From the amount of water it takes to grow food to the amount we use having a shower, humans use a lot of water.
Despite our presumption that the water supply is plentiful, reliable and safe, climate change and modern living is altering our global water supply.
Humans require 60 litres of clean water each day, however modern lifestyles use up a whopping 445 litres. Which means we use more than 7 times the amount of water than we actually need.
Surprisingly, 28% of the average household water usage is due to flushing the toilet. Flushing the loo costs us 8-15 litres of water each time, depending on flow type.
Water is not only used directly by humans, it’s also required to grow food and make clothing. Most people completely underestimate the amount of water that we use, meaning that scientists are now working on plans to conserve water use. In general, we need to pay more attention to water, as it is an essential but often neglected resource.
Learn More: The Consciousness and Intelligence of Water
In this article we explore 12 fascinating truths about how much water it takes to produce food, clothing and sustain modern human lifestyles. So that we can choose wisely by cutting back on the most water-intensive activities and products.
1) A 5-minute shower uses 200 litres of water
When surveyed to find out how much people knew about water, most thought that taking a shower used up a lot of water.
Surprisingly, taking shorter showers won’t make as much difference as cutting out many of the other water usages on this list.
2) 2,755 litres to make 450g of cheese
It takes a lot to make a pound of cheese, considering the dairy cow needs to be fed and watered to produce the milk.
Then there is the actual process of creating cheese itself. A whopping 2,755 litres of water may seem like a lot, but you’ll be surprised to find out that some aspects of our lives require tens of thousands of litres of water.
3) 1,359 litres to make 450g of rice
Rice thrives in wet conditions and requires approximately three litres of water for every grain of rice produced.
Rice doesn’t require very much water when all things are considered, though. Producing rice requires less than half the amount of water than it takes to make cheese, for instance.
4) 10,292 litres for 450g of coffee
Surprisingly the pick-me-up brew adored by many uses up the most water when compared to other items on this list.
It takes 200 litres of water to produce coffee beans for a single cup of coffee. The only comparable water-hungry product on this list is beef.
Climate change is threatening global coffee production because coffee is normally grown in warmer climates, where water shortages are happening.
Coffee production has reduced to 60% below average in some regions, and many producers are using their reserve resources in hopes that they’ll soon find a solution.
5) 7,500 litres to produce 500g of beef
Rearing cattle for beef is incredibly taxing on the environment. Water is both contaminated by cows’ waste and also used up in the rearing of the cattle. Plus, it takes over 1 million litres (410,000 gallons) of water to make the food to feed one cow.
The current animal population of the world is over 20 billion, which is more than double the amount of humans. The amount of water required by these animals is massive and something that should be considered to reduce our demands for water as a human race.
6) 714 litres to make 450g of sugar
Sugar is used in most processed goods. So as well as reducing the sugar you add to items, reducing the amount of processed foods that you consume will help the environment.
Sugar is also incredibly bad for overall health and a tax has now been placed on sugary drinks in the UK.
7) 8-15 litres to flush a toilet
Flushing the toilet and brushing your teeth are two personal activities that use up a lot of water.
To reduce the frequency of flushing, follow the old saying, “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.” If you’re brave enough.
8) 8-15 litres to brush your teeth
We brush our teeth twice a day as a habit to protect our teeth, but in the process we use up a lot of water.
Switching the tap off when brushing your teeth will help reduce the amount of water used.
9) 320 litres to grow an avocado
Avocados are popular with vegans and the health conscious, but they don’t stack up so well when it comes to protecting the environment.
To grow just one avocado fruit you need 320 litres of water.
10) 100 litres to make 2 slices of bread
When you consider that there are normally around 24 slices of bread in a loaf, that is 2,400 litres of water used up to make a loaf of bread.
The entire process from growing wheat to baking and producing a loaf of bread requires massive amounts of water.
11) 150 litres of water for a pint of beer
That equates to 6 pints of water to produce one pint of beer in the UK.
When you consider that one pint is just over 500ml, it’s not just healthier for you to have a glass of water: you’ll be saving the environment too by using 149.5 litres less water.
12) 10,000 litres of water for 1kg of cotton
One kilo of cotton is enough to make a shirt and a pair of jeans. Buying second-hand clothes can seriously reduce the amount of water you use up.
At the time of writing this article, 243,146,120,789 tons of water had been used in cotton production globally. Cotton also creates deadly dust that cause throat cancer in the Aral Sea region.
Emerging strategies to conserve water
Currently we’d need over 1.7 earths to provide resources and absorb waste for humans, and the population is still growing at an astronomical rate. Over 3.4 billion of these people are living with a lack of water.
There is a growing gap between the amount of water we need and how much is available. To prevent a global water crisis, scientists are searching for solutions. From recycling / reclaiming water to drought penalties and new technology designed to cut back water use.
Cutting back or eliminating water hungry-items from your life will help reduce the amount of water we use daily.
The bottom line
Learning about how much water it takes to make everyday items that we often take for granted is important.
As the world population increases, so does our requirement for produce. We all get accustomed to specific types of products, food and drink – not wanting to change our ways.
However, taking steps to remove water-hungry products like coffee will help the environment. Another solution would be to grow some of your own food, which can have the added benefit of heightened appreciation and enjoyment as well as higher nutrient levels.
Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.
Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.