Take the lead in Virtual Water Consumption

How high is your actual water consumption?

A look at your water meter might reveal that it is about 260 liters per day. This may seem startlingly high, but it is just the average of an American citizen.

However, these 260 liters (70 gallons) are only a fraction of the actual water you consume. In reality, our consumption is as high as 6,000 liters (1,600 gallons) per day!

How is that possible?

Water is used to produce almost everything we consume. This is referred to as “virtual water consumption.” It contains the amount of water that is used, evaporated or polluted as part of a product’s manufacture and delivery
Here are some amazing examples of the virtual water consumption for different ordinary products*:

• 1 sheet of paper: 10 liters (2.6 gallons)
• 1 tomato (70 g): 14 liters (3.7 gallons)
• 1 slice of bread: 40 liters (10.5 gallons)
• 1 breakfast  egg: 135 liters
  (35.6 gallons)
• 1 slice of cheese (20 g): 100 liters
  (26.4 gallons)
• 1 cup of coffee: 140 liters (37 gallons)
• 1 burger: 2,400 liters (634 gallons)
• 1 steak (500 g): 7,000 liters
  (1,850 gallons)
• 1 cotton T-shirt: 4,100 liters
  (1,080 gallons)

American citizens take the lead of worldwide virtual water consumption. Our enormous meat consumption accounts greatly to this ranking.  Although a large portion of this virtual water consumption is expended in other countries, we still need to care about it.

High water consumption for agriculture means less available fresh water for the population, degradation of natural resources and in the midterm devastation of unique habitats. 

Try eating fruits and vegetables that are grown locally.  Many times, eating fruits and veggies that are indigenous to your area or grown in season greatly reduces the amount of water used for growing (as well as reducing food miles).  Convenience often comes at the expense of resource degradation in other countries. So start thinking about your virtual water consumption. You can make the difference.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you start reducing your virtual and real water consumption and shift to a more sustainable way of life.

Does it really have to be a steak today? Vegetables are much healthier and better for the environment.” Just think of the acres and acres of grazing land!
Do I really need new clothes? The old ones are still in a good shape and I also save money.

A new washing machine might cost money now, but it will save water and money in the long-run.

*Source: the “Water Footprint Network,” www.waterfootprint.org/

(Courtesy of 435th Civil Engineer Squadron Asset Management Flight)