A swift half and you've used up 75 litres of water
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First came the ecological footprint, then the carbon footprint and now the "water footprint". Apparently it takes 75 litres of water to produce just half a pint of beer and around 15,500 for a steak. Even a cup of tea costs 2,400 litres, so no wonder bloggers are fed up with feeling guilty about the environment. Read more....
First came the ecological footprint, then the carbon footprint and now the "water footprint". Apparently it takes 75 litres of water to produce just half a pint of beer and around 15,500 litres for a steak. Even a cup of tea costs 2,400 litres, so no wonder bloggers are fed up with feeling guilty about the environment.
On August 20 the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) announced that the average British person uses 58 bathtubs of water per day. Not literally, obviously. They were referring to their "water footprint" - the sum of fresh water used by a person both directly (at home) and indirectly (in the production of goods and services consumed). Now it seems that water-consumption awareness is the new version of the campaign to cut carbon emissions
"The countries with the biggest meat-eaters are the main offenders"
Stuart Orr is researched and wrote the UK Water Footprint report for the WWF.
We know how much water there is out there, and we know that more and more people are being born. We won't run out of water: we've got just as much water as we had 20 years ago. But because we move water around a lot, and into places where it becomes unobtainable or situations where it's too polluted to use, reserves will become scarce [the way society uses fresh water for production and consumption, much of it ends up in the sea or polluted by waste].
The countries with the biggest meat-eaters are the main offenders - which is why the United States rates top. China's pretty high too. Although it doesn't rate too high; there are segments within China that consume as much as US consumers. We chose the UK to do the study because it's a country that has the financial means to do something about this, but the findings are of interest to everyone.
I read some of the blogs that reacted badly to the report. The knee-jerk reaction from bloggers is to call us doomsayers; people want to bury their heads in the sand. I'm fed up with these footprints too! But we know we can get this one right - this is not a situation beyond our control. And the private sector has reacted very well to this - companies are paying attention. A lot of people hadn't heard about this, but it's already a very fast-moving discussion. Maybe there will be another footprint on the horizon... but if the findings are useful like they are of this one, then it's worth it.
"This gives an impression of greedy Britons having gallons of water from arid Africa delivered to their doorsteps"
British blogger Brendan O'Neill runs the independent "free-thinking" blog, Spiked.
So, after the eco-footprint and the carbon footprint, now we have the "water footprint". After all those eco-exhortations that we should feel guilty about how much carbon we use, now we're told to be "conscious" (which is a PC word for feeling guilty) about how much water we splash on our faces or flush down the toilet.
(...) As WWF puts it, "You take 58 baths a day - virtually." "Virtually" is the operative word here, because this is "literally" bollocks. WWF says that much of the 4,645 litres of water we "use" [per person per day] is not the stuff that comes from our shower heads in the morning but rather is "virtually shipped in" from overseas. This gives an impression of greedy Britons having gallons of water from arid Africa delivered to their doorsteps.
But of course, (...) even the water in developing countries that is used in agriculture, farming and manufacturing to produce things that are exported overseas does not become "our water"; it stays in its place of origin. Some of the water, doused on to soil to grow crops, will re-enter the natural cycle; much of it will become "grey water", water that has become contaminated through domestic or low-level industrial use but which can quite easily be recycled (given the right equipment and investment). The idea of "virtual water" or water being "shipped in" is entirely metaphorical - and it's a metaphor for humanity's callous wastefulness. It's a metaphor designed to make us feel guilty about everything - from the tea we sip to the clothes we wear - on the nonsensical, simple-minded, emotionally-blackmailing notion that every time we use "virtual water" we steal a cup of the life-giving substance from a little black baby's lips.
5,000 litres for a slice of cheese
Waterfootprint.org estimated the water footprint of various goods. Here are some examples:
|Product||Water footprint in litres|
|250ml of beer||75|
|A beef steak||155,000|
|A cup of coffee||140|
|A glass of wine||120|
|A kilo of cheese||5,000|
|A cotton shirt||2,700|
They also publish UNESCO's results on each country's global average water footprint. Some examples:
|Country||Global average water footprint |
(m3 per capita per year)
You can also work out your own personal water footprint on the site.