Water, our beloved resource we fail to appreciate yet need to exist. Without it, we’d fail to survive past three days. While our direct water use is on average 100 gallons/day through toilets, cooking, drinking, laundry and bathing, it’s the hidden world of water that is unknown to many. Our ‘virtual’ water footprint is closer to 2,000 gallons/person.
Take a plastic bottle of Cola. The Cola itself contains mostly water, then there’s the sugar and syrup. Sugar-related crops require water to grow, not to mention the vanilla and coffee beans required for the syrup. Oh, and the plastic bottle made of oil, requires water for extraction and processing like all fossil fuels. In the end, a ½ liter of coke requires 45 gallons of water. Same thing applies for our clothing, food, furniture, computers, cars, java and beer.
While agriculture accounts for more than 75% of global water use, slowly draining our aquifers, there are steps we can take. Thirsty crops, for example, may not be for humans, but rather cows. After their food, consider the transportation, processing and land degradation. Go Vegan or Vegetarian, buy local foods or grow your own. Buy used clothing and housewares, eliminate plastics, replace electronics only when needed, replace grass with native plants, drive less, bike and bus more.
Approximately 1/3 of humanity lives in water scarce areas, some walking three miles to the nearest clean source. Whether it’s a direct or virtual source, we are capable of changing our ways to make water-smart choices. With over 7 billion people on this planet, if we all take action, wouldn’t the drops start to puddle?