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Know How, Know More

Muddy, Carbon, Water

Can you figure out what the words above have in common? Take your time, I don't have anywhere to be.

Did you come up with footprints? We are familiar with muddy footprints as we return from a soggy garden. You may think about your carbon footprint as you drive to and fro and when you figure out how far a given product has traveled to reach the store shelf. A water footprint? Is that even a real thing? I assure you it is. It is the amount of fresh water required to produce a good or service.

You might immediately think about how long your showers last or if you leave the faucet running while you brush your teeth. These actions contribute to water usage but you are surrounded by numerous products that use water directly or indirectly to be produced. Some of the less obvious or indirect water uses could be the gas in your car. Approximately 1 gallon of water is used to refine 1 gallon of gas. The apple you brought for your mid-morning snack, that took 25 gallons of water to produce. Hold on to your lunch bag, a 1/4 pound hamburger requires over 450 gallons of water for the meat alone! That's not counting the bun, pickle, onion, ketchup and whatever else you love on your burger. Just as a point of reference a 5-minute shower can use 10-25 gallons of water. One sandwich or 30 showers.

Some of the ways indirect water usage is created is by processing, washing, transporting, and feeding (animals). Although there are several factors involved in calculating water usage, one thing is certain - access to freshwater is not infinite.

As we face a growing population and a limited number of resources, you might take a few minutes to consider ways you can reduce your water footprint. There are several other options before you give up on showering!

Practical ways to reduce water usage:
  • If you need to wait for the faucet water to heat up, use a gallon jug to catch the cool water. It can be used later to water plants or mop the floor.
  • Invest in a low flow toilet.
  • Change your shower head to a low flow shower head. (Even if you don't realize it, it's the pressure at which the water comes of out of shower head rather than the amount of water flowing that makes for a good shower.)
  • Capture rainwater to be used to water landscape plants.
  • Look for ways to reduce your food waste. It's not just money you're throwing away.
  • Reuse and recycle as much as possible.

Additional Reading

Texas Water Research Institute

The U.S. Geological Survey Water Science School