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Unexpected Water Hogs

June 29, 2016

So you’ve read about the hidden water that you eat every day… (if not, you can here) but did you also realize there’s hidden water that is embedded in our daily activity?

The “water footprint” phrase that keeps being mentioned is the direct and indirect water used by a particular entity that can be measured by adding the total amount of freshwater it takes to produce the item.

For instance, according to The National Cotton Council of America, one bale of cotton (which is about 480 pounds) can make up to 215 pair of jeans. One t-shirt requires about 713 gallons of water. 45% is for irrigation, 41% is rainwater that evaporates off the cotton field and 14% is for treating wastewater from fields and factories. Just think of all the water needed to produce the cotton – depending on the size of the cotton patch!

We all love our pets, but they attribute to this as well. Not only does having a pet require bathing them and giving them water to drink, but their food takes a huge drain on freshwater resources. According to the National Geographic, it takes about 200 gallons of water to make a dollar’s worth of pet food. Just think of how much water that is the next time you’re buying food for Mr. Whiskers.

What’s ironic is how much water it takes to produce an individual bottle of water. It takes about 17 million barrels of oil a year to produce a year’s worth of plastic bottles. That’s enough to fill one million cars for a year!! It takes 3 times the amount of water to actually produce the bottles as it does to fill them.

Energy and water go hand-in-hand. Water is used to generate energy and energy is needed to supply water. About 90% of electricity in the US is generated by thermoelectric power plants and whether its fossil-fueled or nuclear fueled, these facilities use water for steam to power turbines and generate electricity. It’s hard to be able to control how much water each of these use, but it puts a perspective on how much water we depend on to live – and not just to drink and eat. It makes it more crucial for us to conserve water in any way possible!