4.5 What can you do to cut water use and wastage?
Everything we use, wear, buy, sell and eat takes water to make.
The concept of the water footprint is a way to measure the amount of water used to produce the goods and services we use. It is a versatile measure that can be applied to measuring the water used to produce a kilogram of rice or a longyi. It can be used at the individual, the organizational, the country or the global level to tell us how much water is being consumed.
Calculating water footprints heightens awareness around water usage and encourages conservation efforts. It flags the water impact on the planet in a tangible way (Water Footprint Network, 2020).
What can you do personally to reduce the amount of water that is used?
Use the boxes below to list all the things you can think of that would cut the amount of water you use and waste. Can you fill every box?
Here are some simple measures you can personally take although not all may apply.
- Take showers rather than baths, and make your showers short
- Turn the tap off when you are cleaning your teeth.
- Boil only the water that you need when cooking or making a drink
- If you have a washing machine, save up your clothes so that you wash a full load.
- Wash dishes by filling the bowl rather than washing under a constantly running tap
- Be aware of how much water you are using when flushing a toilet
- Reduce food waste
- Water your garden in the morning or evening
- Catch rainwater
- Eat more vegetables than meat and dairy.
You might have wondered why eating more vegetables than meat and dairy is a water conserving measure. Rearing animals for meat and dairy is much more water intensive than growing vegetables and other foods as can be seen in Figure 5. By cutting down on meat and dairy and eating vegetables and other foods you will be helping to conserve water.
|fresh meat – beef||15000|
|fresh meat – lamb||10000|
|pulses, roots and tubers||1000|
Thus, the water footprint looks at both direct water consumption in terms of what an individual uses (drinking, cleaning teeth, washing the dishes) and indirect water use in terms of goods and services that the individual consumes that are produced using water (clothes worn, food consumed, and products enjoyed).
Your personal water footprint
Find out yourby inputting your water usage information. This should take you no more than a couple of minutes.
You should have a water footprint that is measured in cubic meters (m³) per year. Were you surprised at how much or how little water you use?
You can also undertake a more detailed evaluation of your water footprint.
This will give you a clearer steer on how to reduce your water footprint.