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Water footprint

Water Footprint: What is it?

We have all heard about carbon footprints but do you know what a water footprint is? We’ll discuss what it’s all about, how it affects you and the lifestyle choices you make.

So, what is a water footprint?

UNESCO introduced the idea of a water footprint as a concept in 2002. Its purpose was to highlight the quantities of fresh water used by businesses or companies in order to make goods or provide services. Similarly to that of carbon footprint, which concerns greenhouse gas emissions, a water footprint brings about awareness surrounding the water we use.

How does is affect us?

Monitoring water footprints helps us to better understand our impact on freshwater supplies. Water scarcity is threatening our natural environment and future on earth. Turning off the tap whilst brushing our teeth and taking shorter showers, helps us to lower our own water footprint. However, it is not just our personal use of water we need to consider. It is a little more complicated than that.

Products we buy and services we use all have a water footprint. From the clothes we wear to the food we eat, even online services require water. In 2022, Google used 5.6 billion gallons of water to keep its data centres running. The food industry is also guilty of high water usage in some areas. Beef and chocolate lovers beware! You’re most likely consuming high water footprint foods. Estimated global average water footprints for beef is 1753l per 113g serving whilst for chocolate it’s 1953l per serving.

Types of water footprint

There are three types of water footprint, categorised into colours: blue, green and grey. Blue refers to the quantity of surface and groundwater needed to produce an item e.g. for crop irrigation. Green indicates the amount of rainwater required in the production process e.g. dry farming, where crops are only watered with rainwater. Grey is the total amount of fresh water needed to purify water to meet EPA water quality standards.

What can we do?

Apart from lowering our own personal water footprint at home, we can make more sustainable choices as consumers. Swapping out beef for chicken or going meat-free a few more times a week can reduce yours. Oddly enough, tea uses less water during farming than coffee. In terms of clothing, cotton garments use up the most water during the production process. Eco-friendly alternatives include: linen, Lyocell and Tencel.

Cotton production

However this doesn’t mean going vegetarian or giving up your morning coffee, it’s just about being aware of the choices you make. Choosing eco-conscious fashion ranges or not giving into fast fashion purchases doesn’t mean you have to let your appearance go altogether! Knowing which brands are doing their bit to fight water scarcity and supporting them is an easy win.

Reusing rainwater is another way to ensure that you are doing your bit to conserve water resources. Gathering water in a storage tank and filtering it with a submersible water filter means that you will have quality water for gardening, washing your car and other household chores. Chat to our experts if you want to find out more about water filters and re-using rainwater.