Last night I dreamed that Earth had exhausted its supply of potable water.
When I was a very young child, I was allowed to sit way up on the kitchen counter in my grandma’s country farm house. On that countertop was the best thing ever – an enormous thick stone crock nearly as big as me, filled with the coldest sweetest well-water you could imagine. It could be scooped up and sipped from an enamel ladle, and it was the absolute best treat in the world to me. I think it’s the reason that water has always been my favorite cold drink.
The human body is comprised of 55% to 78% water. We can’t live without it. But experts all agree a global water crisis is imminent. Aside from what we consume in the H2O state, there’s hidden water behind every product, embedded in everything from computers to cars to paint to tea.
The term ‘virtual water’ is used to describe water the consumer doesn’t actually see in an end-product, but which has been used in its production. Calculations are based on the amount of water that is used at every level of production of each single ingredient that’s included in the end product.
This brief list shows the amount of water needed to make each of these items.
1 car = 39,090 gallons
1 pair jeans = 1,800 gallons
1 cotton tee-shirt = 400 gallons
1 barrel beer = 1,500 gallons
1 hamburger = 634 gallons
1 latte = 53 gallons
Meat vs. Other Protein
It comes as no surprise that meat production costs by far the most water for the least amount of protein return. Legumes cost significantly less water to produce to return the same amount of protein value. Easily renewable eco-friendly organic resources like hemp and bamboo are the most water-efficient alternatives to cotton and poly-synthetic fabrics. And, as the video shows, there are many practical solutions to lessening the water-cost of production.
If you think there’s nothing you can do to conserve water, think again. Every consumer decision we make can include water-friendly alternatives that don’t cost much, but can make a big difference to the future of our planet.
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