Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink

water_footprint3We hear about greenhouse gases and carbon footprints all the time, but we hear less frequently about a water footprint.

Here’s some news from the UK.

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Overfilling kettles wastes £68m a year, says report

Some 40% of people boiled water five times a day or more, the study found

Three-quarters of British households overfill their kettles, wasting a total of £68m each year, an Energy Saving Trust (EST) report has suggested.

The study of 86,000 households also found the average shower lasted seven-and-a-half minutes. A minute less and £215m would be saved, the EST said.

Washing clothes at 30C and filling kettles to the required amount were among ways to save money, it added.

It said people must not think they were “powerless to control our water use”.

The EST found British homes collectively used nine billion litres of water a day with showers using a quarter of that and toilets using 22%.

Kitchen appliances, such as kettles, dishwashers and washing machines – together with taps – also used 22% of household water, the report said.

The study found 95% of people boiled the kettle every day with 40% boiling water five times a day or more.

And it suggested the average household washed dishes by hand 10 times a week and used a dishwasher three times a week.

The EST said bigger households could make energy and water savings by using modern, efficient dishwashers rather than washing by hand.

Other ways consumers could save money included installing an “eco” shower head, it added.

EST water strategy manager Andrew Tucker said that, when people thought of energy use, “they think of heating and lighting, running electrical appliances or filling the car with petrol”.

“It’s all too easy to turn on the tap and not think about the consequences,” he said.

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Here’s some more startling facts: (Sorry, forgot the source)

  • It takes around 3,000 litres of water to produce a burger…
  • That’s 15 trillion litres of water – on burgers. Just in the UK.
  • 14 billion burgers were consumed in the United States in 2012. That’s around 42 trillion litres of water.
  • It takes around 9,000 litres of water to produce a chicken.
  • It takes around 2,700 litres of water each bar of chocolate.
  • Your cotton pyjamas take 9,000 litres of water to produce.
  • It takes something like four litres of water to produce a one-litre plastic bottle of water. Talk about irony, water wasted to produce bottles – for water.
  • It takes around 72,000 litres of water to produce one of the ‘chips’ that typically powers your laptop.

We are using water like there was plenty. Of course the oceans are full of it, but there is only a small percentage of useable/drinkable water on the planet and technology is making us use it faster and faster with scant regard for the consequences.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. It is good practice to get into a habit of being less wasteful on all resources, but Britain is unlikely to suffer a water shortage problem considering we keep getting flooded.

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    • >Alex, don’t be so sure. Surface water is only a small part of the problem. The bigger problem are the aquifers underground that are being depleted, particularly by agriculture, and not being replenished by surface water because we are using it.

      AV

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  2. Ok, I don’t eat any meat so I’m okay there, and with the rain haven’t had to water the garden but once this season. But then you had to include chocolate and computer chips. I just just bought a new laptop which should be here in a couple of days. Does it help that this is only the second new computer to ever enter my home? My son used to build all our computers from parts destined for the trash.

    Around my house the showers are short as I take what we call “navy showers” and where I conserve is in water left in glasses by guests. Instead of pouring it down the drain it is used to water my house plants.

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    • >lsf, I knew the chocolate would get some of my readers. I eat 50gms of dark (60% cocoa) most days, good for the heart… and soul. I used to let the kids play under the garden hose when I had a garden, because it always benefited from the run off. I use some of my grey water for the plants now, I have so few, I can’t use it all. Your navy showers here too, 3 mins max, that includes teeth during the rinse cycle.

      Thanks for the link below, always appreciated. I enjoy your Fri post.

      AV

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  3. […] always I learn something new from AV at Eco Crap. This week water took center stage. We all know meat is very water intensive to produce, but have you considered items such as […]

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  4. When I moved to this little tropical island I was horrified at having a limited amount of water each day. If you use too much, you run out. Simple. It’s truly amazing how much more careful we are, when it’s not available every time you turn on the tap.
    Great article AV, those stats are horrific. Have shared on Tw. Thanks!

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    • >Clare, I didn’t realise you lived on a ‘tiny tropical island’. Sometimes, here in Rio de Janeiro, we have water rationing in the summer and it is easy to run out. I saw the tweets, thank you.

      AV

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