Every Drop Counts

Being mindful of your direct and indirect water consumption is beneficial to the planet, your health and your finances writes Ruth Barton....
By 2050 7 billion may face conditions of water scarcity

Many of us think that our water footprint is limited to what we drink and use to wash, however this only makes up around 5% of our overall consumption. The rest of our water footprint is indirectly used on the crops that feed livestock, provide materials for our clothes and make our beer and bread.

Here are some shocking facts you may not know (to help put it into perspective remember two litres of water is a big bottle of pop):

• The number of litres of water required to produce a single egg is 200 litres.

• 2,500 litres is required to produce 500g of cheese.

• A single cotton t-shirt is created by using 2,700 litres of water.

• One steak (300g) requires 4,650 litres of water.

• A massive 16,600 litres of water is needed to produce just 1kg of leather.

It is important to be aware of indirect water consumption in order to take steps to reduce it. If we don't change our habits then it is predicted that by 2025 2.8 billion people in 48 countries will face water stress or scarcity conditions - a figure that will have more than doubled in 2050 to a massive 7 billion people.

There are simple ways that you can reduce the amount of water consumed on a domestic and global scale. This will not only help reduce you ecological footprint and impact on the environment, but will also have a positive effect on your bank account. 

Ways to reduce your domestic water footprint:

  • Reduce the time you spend in the shower by one minute. The average shower length is around 7.5 minutes, cutting the amount of time you spend in the shower by just one minute could save you up to £15 off your energy bills (per person, per annum).
  • Only fill up the kettle with as much water as you need. This could save you around £8 each year. If everybody did this, over the course of a year the UK could save enough money to power all of the country's streetlights for two months.
  • Only use your dishwasher/washing machine when you have a full load. Over the course of one month this could save you between 500 and 1,500 litres of water. When it is time to replace appliances, look for an efficient one, keep an eye out for an Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo on the machines.
  • Turn the tap off while you brush your teeth. Leaving it on wastes up to 6 litres of water per minute, which amounts to 8,760 unnecessary litres a year.

Ways to reduce your global water footprint:

By 2050 7 billion may face conditions of water scarcity
  • Eat less meat. Countless kilograms of fodder are produced each year to feed the animals. It takes nearly 6kg of grain to produce around 450g of meat - you will save more water by not eating this pound of meat than you would by not showering for six whole months.
  • Don't buy bottled water. It is not healthier or safer than tap water but it costs more and is harmful to the environment.
  • Make sure you consume responsibly farmed products. Sustainable farming can have a huge impact on the global water footprint. Farmers who use effective water management systems such as land drainage and recycling water use water more efficiently.
  • Reduce waste. Only buy what you need and try not to get drawn in by offers. Homes in the UK throw away almost 7.5million tonnes of food a year. All of this food required water to produce it - water that is now going to waste.

All these steps are small lifestyle changes, but if everybody incorporated them into their daily lives it could have a huge impact on the environment and the global quality of life. In fact, if everybody in the US alone went vegetarian for just one day there would be:

· 1.5 billion pounds of surplus crops fed to farm animals (enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year).

· 70 million extra gallons of fuel - enough to power all the cars in Mexico and Canada.

· 33 more tons of antibiotics.

So why not give up meat for just one day a week and make an enormous difference to your indirect water footprint and your wallet? 

Ruth works in digital marketing and has a passion for all things green. She is constantly looking at ways to reduce the impact she has on the environment, small changes can make a big difference!