What’s Your Water Footprint?

By Michael Alexander

As historic drought continues to cripple much of the Western U.S. and force states like California to impose mandatory water restrictions, consumers need to know their true water footprint now more than ever. The GRACE Communications Foundation has just launched its new Water Footprint Calculator, a web and mobile-friendly tool that helps users, determine and monitor their everyday water use and offers alternatives for how to reduce their overall water footprint.  

The new Water Footprint Calculator is a valuable educational tool that helps users find out how much water they use through a series of simple questions about their daily routines and also offers tips for reducing the amount of water they consume.

“Many areas are facing dire water shortages and conflicts, and families are trying to find meaningful ways to reduce their water use without overhauling their lives,” said Peter Hanlon, GRACE’s water and energy programs director. “We think people will be genuinely shocked by how big their water footprints are. From the moment we hit snooze on our alarms until we turn off our bedside lights, we’re consuming water. It connects to every aspect of our lives, and there are many points every day when we can make small choices that have a big impact.”

According to the calculator, the average American has a water footprint of 2,220 gallons per person, per day. Most of this is the result of “virtual water” in food, energy, shopping habits and other lifestyle choices that most people don’t associate with water use.

Some surprising numbers on the unseen water in everyday items include:

  • A single avocado uses 60 gallons of water to grow
  • One cell phone takes 240 gallons to manufacture
  • It takes 713 gallons to create one cotton t-shirt
  • A hamburger uses 660 gallons of water to make
  • One gallon of gasoline takes three-to-six gallons of water to produce

“We all use water every day, in everything we do,” said Hanlon. “By using the Water Footprint Calculator, consumers can make smart choices that help create a more sustainable future. The calculator also provides a number of tips that can help consumers cut their water waste, to make sure that there’s enough for all of us now and in the future.”

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