What’s a water footprint?

Written by Kajsa IngelssonMarch 25, 2017

Everybody knows this fact: Fresh water is a vital natural resource that is necessary for the survival of all ecosystems on Earth.

Here is another fact you might not know but really should: The availability of this precious resource is being significantly impacted by depletion, pollution and resource conflicts that have been caused by rapid expansion of urban areas, agriculture, population and climate change.

With that being said, the need for every person and household to practice good water management can not be understated. And btw, water conservation is the easiest and most inexpensive way individuals can make a difference. Here’s how to do lower your water footprint:

  • Reduce your meat intake or go vegan. Let me put it into numbers for you: it takes 1,799 gallons (6810 liters) to produce 1 pound (500 grams) of meat. It takes 49 average sized swimming pools to raise one 1000 pound (453 kg) cow that will yield 610 pounds (276 kg) of meat. Meat is not sustainable at any level.
  • Fix leaky faucets and toilets, which can waste up to 20 gallons (75 liters) of water per day!
  • Install low-volume or dual flush toilets to save up to 80 gallons (303 liters) of water per day.
  • Install low-flow shower heads to reduce water use during bathing by nearly 20 percent.
  • Protect our water sources! In many cities and countries waste water is returned to the waters (ocean and lakes) without being treated or cleaned. Don’t pour chemicals down drains, or flush drugs down toilets; it could come back in diluted form in your water.
  • Take a short shower instead of a bath. A 5 minute shower uses 20 gallons (75 liters) of water. The average bath requires 36 gallons (136 liters).
  • Use the dishwasher to clean a full load of dishes rather than washing by hand. Dishwashers use 9-12 gallons (34-45 liters) per load. Washing the same set of dishes by hand can use up to 20 gallons (75 liters).
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth, shaving, or doing dishes to save 5 or more gallons (19 liters).
  • Go beyond the lawn and Xeriscape your lawn instead of planting grass. If you have to water your lawn or garden plants, do it during the coolest part of the day or at night to minimize evaporation. Harvest rainwater and graywater (from baths and dishes) and use it for outdoor watering.
  • FYI, bottled water is a scam. In most first-world countries, the tap water is provided by a government utility and is tested regularly. Bottled water is not as well regulated and studies have shown that it is not even particularly pure. Not only is it more expensive per gallon than gasoline, bottled water incurs a huge carbon footprint from its transportation, and the discarded bottles are killing our oceans.
  • Read this post for the best at home water filters and non-toxic bottles.