Most water we consume is invisible to us. Last year we published a post in this blog about virtual water and our water footprint, stating that tap water consumption is just a tiny part of our total water consumption. Most water we consume is used to grow our vegetables, feed our cattle, manufacture our clothes, our car, our computer and our glasses, or even build our house and get some petrol to move around. This is the so-called water footprint: the impact we have on the planet’s water resources.
A recent study puts our water footprint in figures. As average (calculated from 1996 to 2005), every person in this world consumes 1,385 m3 water every year. As usual when talking about such large figures, it is better to compare it with something we know better. And this is what Clemente Álvarez did in his very interesting blog named Ecolaboratorio: an average road tanker holds 15 m3 of water, so we should need 92 tankers to hold all the water used by every human-being for one year.
This study provides us with an even more astonishing piece of information: Spain is the fifth country with the highest water footprint in the world. To be precise: every Spaniard consumes 2,461 m3 annually. In other words: 164 tankers. This is twice the world average.
If we take into account that 92% of our water footprint is due to food, we could change some habits. Just two figures for those who wish to reduce their water footprint:
- By far, the product that consumes more water is meat. To get 100 grams (0.22 pounds) of beef, we need 15 times more water than to get 100 grams of potatoes. So you may not want to eat meat every single day…
- Take into account not only what you eat, but also where your food comes from: transport poses a very strong impact and requires lots of virtual water too. Look for locally-produced food.
- Post at Delivering Data about virtual water: http://www.deliveringdata.com/2011/05/virtual-water.html
- What is virtual water: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_water
- What is water footprint: http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/home
- Study The water footprint of humanity: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/02/06/1109936109.abstract
- Post at Delivering Data about our environmental impact for eating meat: http://www.deliveringdata.com/2011/04/we-can-survive-thanks-to-vegetarians.html
- Post at Delivering Data about food transport: http://www.deliveringdata.com/2012/05/food-from-far-and-near.html