Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hidden waters

You step into your shower, let the water splash on your face, and then remember not to linger too long -- you don't want to waste water.  When you brush your teeth, you're always vigilant about turning off the tap while brushing.  You use an energy-efficient dishwasher, rather than hand-washing the dishes.  You've even installed a low-flow toilet in your home.

But what about "virtual water"?  Virtual water is water that's not consumed, rather it's used to produce food and other products.  The U.S. exports approximately 1/3 of the freshwater it uses (and we use about 100 gallons/day/person) as virtual water.  Approximately how much water does it take to produce other products?

  • to produce a 2 liter soda, it takes about 120 gallons of water (think about the production of the plastic bottle)
  • to produce a pair of blue jeans, it takes about 2880 gallons of water (cotton is a very "thirsty" crop, requiring substantial irrigation)
  • to produce one hamburger, it takes about 640 gallons of water (remember, first you have to irrigate the grain, then you feed the grain to the cow, which also drinks water.....and then you have to clean the waste from the cattle)
Here are three easy ways to reduce your virtual water use:
  1. Eat less meat!
  2. Drink water from the tap in reusable water bottles!
  3. Reduce and reuse -- manufacturing new stuff requires water!
And as you pat yourself on the back for your water savings, enjoy these 25 water fun facts:

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