Surprising Water Footprints: 630 Gallons of Water to Make 1 Hamburger

WSj interactive on Waterfootprints

WSj interactive on Waterfootprints

We are researching rain barrels and rain gardens this month in order to expand our line for summer. In that process I keep coming across water footprint sites and info. So while we usually look downstream, this post is about looking upstream at what it takes to produce things. Recently I posted about the Story of Stuff video which is a painless 20 minute look at the garbage produced upstream from your purchases. This is the water side of that.

First, why do we care ::

Picture 9With water use increasing six-fold in the past century-more than twice the rate of Earth’s population growth-our demand for water is fast outstripping what the planet can replenish.

  • Two-thirds of the world’s population is projected to face water scarcity by 2025, according to the United Nations.
  • In the U.S., water managers in 36 states anticipate shortages by 2013, a General Accounting Office report shows.
  • The FAO has warned that within the next 20 years, two thirds of the earth’s population could face serious water shortages.
  • one flush of a toilet in the developed world, says the United Nations (PDF), uses as much water as the average person in the developing world allocates for an entire day’s cooking, washing, cleaning, and drinking.
  • see water footprint for your food items here

Here are some water footprint calculators::

And here are some tips and things you can do::

  • h2o conserve tips
  • stop using that sink garbage disposal unit, establish a compost pile or worm farm (besides, it is bad for the water to put more organic waste into them to go into our rivers and oceans and increase the nitrogen)
  • Shorter showers with less pressure (this one is very hard for me and my bad back!)
  • Install a water saving shower head – under $10
  • Ensuring taps, water pipes and hose connections don’t drip
  • Checking toilets for leaks. Use a few drops of food coloring in the cistern, wait for a while and check the bowl for signs of color – be sure to flush afterwards prevent staining.
  • Buy clothing with fibers that aren’t so water intensive
  • Installing rainwater tanks
  • Using greywater from sinks  and washing machines (saved in rainbarrels) to water the garden
  • install a rain barrel
  • Using low water car washes
  • Installing tap aerators
  • Turning off the tap while brushing our teeth
  • Turning off the tap while shaving
  • Washing veggies in a sink partially filled with water instead of under a running tap
  • Setting washing machines at the lowest possible water level for the load
  • Watering gardens just after sunrise or just after sunset to reduce evaporation
  • Mulching gardens to reduce watering requirements
  • Installing drip irrigation systems
  • Cutting grass a little longer during summer
  • Reducing the temperature of water heaters which lessens the amount of mixing needed to be done in order to achieve a temperature that won’t scald your skin
  • Insulate water pipes
  • Installing low-water-use flush toilets or displacement devices in the tanks
  • Fill a dishwasher completely before running it
  • Use drought tolerant plants in your garden and drought resistant grass for lawn

Stay tuned for our new rainbarrel and rain garden sections coming next month. In the meantime, really give thanks for that morning cup of coffee tomorrow….

Picture 10


One response to “Surprising Water Footprints: 630 Gallons of Water to Make 1 Hamburger

  1. Pingback: It takes 35 gallons to make a cup of coffee, 100 to make a t-shirt… « People Powered Machines

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