Our water footprint

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Did you know that everything we use, wear, buy, sell and eat takes water to make? When water scarcity affects over 2.7 billion people for at least a month each year, and when only 2.5% of the water on earth is fresh water*, we risk reaching the limit of our resources unless we become more mindful of how we use it.

In a genius welcome move, Professor Arjen Hoekstra of the University of Twente in The Netherlands created the concept of a ‘water footprint’ to measure the amount of water needed to produce the goods and services we use, from a pair of jeans to our suitcases and phones.

He went on to found the non-profit Water Footprint Network (WFN) in 2008, which uses a Water Footprint Assessment for both individuals and countries to show where freshwater is consumed and polluted and help promote fair and smart use of the world’s fresh water. His water footprint has three components – green for rainfall and soil moisture, blue for surface and groundwater, and grey for the fresh water required for the assimilation of pollutants.

The Water Footprint Network’s vision is of a world in which we share clean, fresh water fairly as a foundation for healthy lives and a healthy planet – something we can all help with, right now. A ten minute shower, for example, uses 25 gallons of water, a kilo of beef can use up to 15,000 litres of water, and the global manufacture of packaging for everyday goods requires 650-800 billion cubic meters of water annually and often pollutes our water too. This grey water footprint reaches 330 billion cubic metres per year – which could supply China’s households with water for six months.

Don’t wait – assess your water footprint based on your specific consumption here http://www.watercalculator.org.

* According to the Water Footprint Network (WFN)

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