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What is your water footprint

It takes a lot of water to produce food, to make energy and to manufacture consumer products . This is what is known as virtual water . Virtual water or “indirect” water is the water “hidden” in the products, services, or processes that we consume and use every day.

By the year 2030, experts predict that global demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent. Impacts from climate change have already led to changes to the water cycle, leading to prolonged periods of drought (and, conversely, more extreme rainfall) in some areas.

Water sustainability is a big concern as the demand for water is on the steep rise, but the supply of water is rapidly decreasing. These footprints give everyone a solid frame of reference that helps the world be more efficient and sustainable with water use. By understanding our water footprints, we can appreciate the role water plays in everyone’s lives.

Find out your water footprint


Tips on how you can make a difference

  • Think of baths as an occasional treat and stick to showers. The average bath uses 35 to 50 gallons whereas a 10 minute shower with a low-flow showerhead only uses 25 gallons.
  • Drink one less cup of coffee per day, or – if you really need your caffeine fix – go for tea instead, since coffee has one of the highest water footprints per pound.
  • Put a bucket in the shower while you’re waiting for the water to warmup, and use the water you catch for watering plants, flushing the toiletor cleaning.
  • Don’t go nuts. They’re a good, nutritious source of protein, but nuts are major water hogs. Regarding milk, soy and oat milks have smaller water footprints compared to nut milks that have a relatively high water footprint. Cow’s milk typically has the biggest water footprint.
  • Eat more vegetables. It takes an enormous amount of water to produce animal products like meat and dairy, because livestock and poultry in the US eat large amounts of water-intensive feed – usually corn and soybeans.
  • Don’t drink bottled water. It’s the ultimate form of wasteful convenience. It takes at least as much (and often much more) water to make the bottle as the drinking water it holds.
  • Try Meatless Monday and go vegetarian one day a week. It could significantly lower your water footprint.
  • Choose tap water over bottled – it takes about 1.5 gallons of water to manufacture a single plastic bottle (how crazy is that?) and plastic bottles are always made from new plastic material.
  • Choose pasture-products. When you do eat meat, dairy and eggs, opt for pasture-raised products. It’s better for you and the planet, and grass (as opposed to corn and soy feed) is less likely to be irrigated so is less reliant on blue water resources.
  • Consider installing a greywater system. These systems allow you to re-use the water from your sinks, washing machine and dishwater for flushing toilets and watering plants outside.


Dive into the ins and outs of water sustainability by listening to our podcast, reading more of our blogs or signing up for our next webinar with the world’s leading water experts.

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