Tag Archives: conserve water

Water footprints- Darn, do I really have to give up chocolate and wine :(

Today is World Water Day and of all the articles I read, it was the simple numbers of our daily food choices that grabbed me. Of particular note, my favorite foods from butter, olives, chocolate and wine are all water-wasting choices. Darn. And isn’t it surprising that lettuce is low on the list? I thought that would take more water to keep hydrated. Go figure.

Note: In general these figures have been derived from work done by Waterfootprint.org and represent gallons of water consumed per pound of food (except for beverages, whose volumes are listed). They represent global averages, not specific conditions in any one place.

Fruits, Vegetables & Grains

Lettuce — 15 gallons;
Tomatoes — 22 gallons;
Cabbage — 24 gallons;
Cucumber — 28 gallons;
Potatoes — 30 gallons;
Oranges — 55 gallons;
Apples — 83 gallons;
Bananas — 102 gallons;
Corn — 107 gallons;
Peaches or Nectarines — 142 gallons;
Wheat Bread — 154 gallons;
Mango — 190 gallons;
Avocado — 220 gallons;
Tofu — 244 gallons;
Groundnuts — 368 gallons;
Rice — 403 gallons;
Olives — 522 gallons;
Chocolate
— 2847 gallons;

Meat & Dairy

This is where water intensity really starts increasing. If you want to reduce the water footprint of your diet, this is where you want to really cut back:

Eggs — 573 gallons;
Chicken — 815 gallons;
Cheese
— 896 gallons;
Pork
— 1630 gallons;
Butter
— 2044 gallons;
Beef
— 2500-5000 gallons; (Global figures for the water intensity of beef vary so significantly that an average isn’t particularly informative, so a range of figures is given)

And Drinks:

Tea (8oz) — 7 gallons;
Beer, barley (8oz) — 36 gallons;
Coffee (8oz) — 29 gallons;
Wine (8oz) — 58 gallons;

Use a Rain Barrel for Easy Greywater Diversion Systems

picture-9So I know…watering your trees and plants with greywater is against many municipality regulations, but we were happy to just have a customer write to us with their use for one of our rainbarrels as a greywater container for their diversion system. They divert greywater from their washing machine to their trees and ornamental plants. This customer reported saving 10 to 50 gallons a week of water for her yard. That’s better for the soil, plants, and local sewage treatment system…and tax payers! Did you know that a typical U.S. household uses 363 gallons of water per day… so we are thrilled to hear this water footprint reduction use.

The simplest greywater system is to simply divert the water directly to the garden. Regulations change by country and region, but common guidelines for safe usage include not storing the greywater for more than 24 hours, ensuring it cannot pool or run off, and depositing it with subsurface irrigation. Greywater diversion systems can be both designed-in to new homes, or retrofitted to many existing homes.

The benefits of grey water recycling include:

  • Lower fresh water use
  • Less strain on failing septic tank or treatment plant
  • Grey water treatment in topsoil is highly effective
  • Ability to build in areas unsuitable for conventional treatment
  • Less energy and chemical use
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Plant growth
  • Reclamation of otherwise wasted nutrients

Soapy Tips:
And remember, avoid using detergents with boron, sodium and chlorine. Eco-Soaps are actually good for the soil structure and make it more permeable allowing deeper rooting plants.

Learn more with these greywater links:

  • Oasis Design – All about all aspects of grey water systems. Why to use them, how to choose, build and use them, regulations, studies, and examples. Includes grey water irrigation, grey water treatment, grey water filters, and indoor grey water reuse.
  • Greywater Guerrillas
  • Rainbarrels you can use

Pining for the Tropics:
Oh and…remember if you live up north, your rain barrel parts could freeze (just like hoses) in winter so that is something to consider when designing your greywater system. Southern climates…well lucky you!