Although the earth is often referred to as 'the blue planet', out of all the water on earth, less than 1% is accessible fresh water for us to use. The average water used per person per day is 142 litres in England, and with the population rapidly increasing, rising water usage and climate change, the UK could be hit by water shortages as soon as 2050. As well as the water that comes out of our taps, there is also water usage behind nearly every product we buy. This is known as 'embedded water' and is important to consider if you're trying to cut down on your water consumption. For example, one cotton t-shirt has about 2,700 litres of water embedded in its production, which is equally to around 49 baths full of water! Here are some top tips to reduce your water consumption in ways you may not have considered before...
There is a lot of scientific evidence that shows that eating a high meat diet will significantly increase your carbon and water footprint. A quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions come from food, and nearly 60% of this comes from animal products. In the UK, 18,000 litres of water are used to produce only 1kg of beef and it takes 5,990 litres to produce 1 kg of pork. 290 litres of water are required to grow 1kg of potatoes and 1827 litres of water are needed per 1kg of wheat. For every litre of milk produced, a cow needs to drink at least 3 litres of water, totalling 150 litres per day. The International Panel on Climate Change says that we need to buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter but we also need to eat more locally-sourced seasonal food and throw less of it away. When cooking, it is a good idea to use the lid on saucepans as it reduces the amount of water lost through evaporation. This also helps your delicious veg cook quicker!
Phones are composed of many pieces which are created in multiple steps, and each step consumes water. When the water required for all the steps to make a smart phone is added up, the water footprint of the production of a single phone is estimated to be in excess of 14,500 litres. Around a billion smartphones were sold worldwide in 2013, representing a huge amount of water usage.
The production of clothes uses an awful lot of water. The majority of our clothes are made in countries with already scarce water supplies, and the vast amount of water used in the production of garments further adds to global water scarcity and water inequality. Growing the cotton and dyeing the materials for one pair of jeans and one t-shirt can use up to 20,000 litres of water. To put this into perspective, it would take you over 13 years to drink this amount! Buying ethically and sustainably made clothes is a great way to cut down on your water usage. Buying clothes second-hand is also a brilliant option as it keeps good clothes out of landfill and doesn't use up new resources.
To find out more about embedded water & your personal water footprint, visit Water Footprint Network here.