If asked most people would probably say we use too much water in the UK but do they realise quite how much? 150 litres per day is the average amount that an individual person uses; sounds a lot but the vast majority is not used for washing and drinking. In fact 95% of our individual water use is taken up with the food we eat, the energy we burn and the products we buy.
Take for example the crop development and manufacturing process to put coffee on our supermarket shelves. This process uses an incredible 160 litres of water to produce a single cup of coffee. Similarly it takes 170 litres to produce a pint of beer, considering the number of pints consumed in the UK this is a staggering amount of water.
Meat and dairy production consume far more water than other food groups, particularly those that are raised on grain based feeds as opposed to grass fed. Incredibly it takes in the region of 12,000 litres of water to produce one beef burger.
Consider the water footprint for a vegan as opposed to the typical meat based British diet. Typically it takes 3 times the amount of water to feed a meat eater as opposed to a vegan.
With populations and water consumption rising our most precious of resources is under severe strain. 1.2 billion People on our planet have no access to clean water. In the last century the world’s population has tripled, incredibly our water consumption is six times greater over the same period. Something plainly has to give.
Becoming water aware
There is a lot that can and is being done by individuals and businesses alike, metering services and leak detection have helped. The first step for the general public however is awareness of the issue; education and communication have a large part to play.
National Geographic have a great water footprint calculator that walks you through your water usage, identifying and recommending ways to cut your quota. http://environment.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment/freshwater/water-footprint-calculator/
Simple steps like turning off the tap whilst brushing your teeth. If everyone in England and Wales did this in one day we would save enough water to supply 500,000 homes. Taking more showers than baths and using your bath water to hydrate your plants is a good place to start. Consider only flushing your toilet when you ‘really’ have to. Small measures add up to big differences.
Transport is a huge consumer of water overall so consider where your food originates from and buy local to cut your water usage. The food industry is increasingly aware of this most important of environmental concerns so ask the question, make everyone think. Above all – let’s do our bit!
Understanding your water usage, water management tips and metering services written by Karen James prolific writer for Business and Environmental sectors