After this week’s earlier revelation that making an organic cotton t-shirt requires 10,000 litres of water, you can now get a better idea of how much water you really use each day with a graphic GOOD have published giving an idea of part of an average person’s daily water footprint and how it can be reduced.

The ones that leap out at me are:

  • A bottle of soft drink (half a litre) uses 165 litres of water in its production, as does a single egg
  • Tea requires a quarter of the water that coffee does
  • And beef weighs in at 15000 litres of water per kilo

To put some of the information in context, Wikipedia’s article on Water Footprints tells us that:

The global average Water Footprint is 1240 m³ water/person/year. The Chinese average is 700 m³ water/person/year one of the smallest in the world and the United States’s 2480 m³ water/person/year is the largest in the world…  The water footprint of the UK is 1695 m³ water/person/year.

A cubic metre is equal to 1000 litres so the average person in the UK uses 1.7 million litres of water a year.

The term Water Crisis refers to, “the status of the world’s water resources relative to human demand.” And I think the fact that it’s called the water crisis gives us an indication that we don’t have fresh water in abundance. The entry lists some of the consequences of the lack of (and uneven distribution of) fresh water including the inadequate access to safe drinking water and water for sanitation and waste disposal, its effect on agricultural yields, the harm to biodiversity caused by overuse and pollution and warfare caused by scarcity of water, but for a scary statistic how about:

At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from waterborne diseases. According to the World Bank, 88 percent of all diseases are caused by unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.