Atmospheric Scientist here at Weather Underground, with serious nerd love for tropical cyclones and climate change. Twitter: @WunderAngela
By: Angela Fritz , 4:11 AM GMT on January 31, 2013
Water is the new oil, right? Not only do we each directly consume water every day for drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning and tending our lawns, we also use water indirectly, as water “embedded” in the products and services we buy. Thus, in the same way we each have a carbon footprint we also have a water footprint. A water footprint is the total volume of freshwater used directly and indirectly to produce the goods and services consumed by an individual, community, company or nation. This includes the amount of “green water”, or rainwater consumed in the production process and to grow crops, “blue water”, or surface and groundwater consumed, and “greywater”, the amount of freshwater polluted as a result of the process.
To put this in perspective, a cup of coffee requires about 37 gallons of water to produce; it takes 6.5 gallons to grow a pound of carrots and 108 gallons to grow a pound of corn; 1,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, 2,200 gallons for a pair of blue jeans, 25 gallons for a kilowatt-hour of electricity. The average person in the United States consumes more than 750,000 gallons of water each year via the products and services they purchase—representing the highest per capita water footprint in the world. By contrast, nations like Guatemala, Kenya, and Afghanistan have water footprints less than 200,000 gallons per person per year.
During the month of February, the Taking on Water Challenge will issue a new charge each Tuesday to help you reduce your water footprint. Challenges will be straight-forward and relatively easy to achieve. Along with each task, you’ll learn why your choice is important, and how much water you can save if you undertake the pledge for a week—or better yet, make it permanent. By the end of the month, your combined actions could save more than 1,500 gallons per week. If you stick with these changes, you can save over 6,000 gallons each month or nearly 80,000 gallons of water in a year’s time. Along the way, we’ll provide you with additional resources and water saving ideas you can bring to your life. We hope that once you figure out how easy it can be to be water wise, you’ll put what you learn to good use. At the end of the month, we’ll draw a winner for a Taking on Water prize!
For more background on our water footprints, start here with my Water Deva Cheat Sheet and related information.
And, please help us spread the word through your social media networks. Every drop counts!
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