Tuesday, June 10, 2008

'Virtual Water' Calculation Forces Re-Think of Conservation

Sorry people, water conservation is not as simple as turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth. If that's your idea of saving the planet, you're taking on a charging bull with a sling-shot.

You may save a couple gallons by shutting off the faucet when you brush, and you should. But did you know tossing a banana in the trash will cost you 27 gallons of water? An apple is 19. Dumping a cup of coffee down the drain will run the environment 37 gallons. These figures represent the water it takes to create a product, or "virtual water," according to
a piece at Discover Magazine.

Understanding the cost in virtual water of products seems the best way to confront the emerging global water crisis (about 5 million people die each year due to dirty water or water shortage).

By 2030, the world needs to increase the water supply by 14 to 17 percent to meet demand. Something you can do is make sure you're using all the food you buy and the coffee you make. At a national level, countries can import water-intensive products from regions that are more water-rich. For example, "Jordan saves 60 to 90 percent of its domestic water supply by importing water-intensive products," reports Discover.

Interesting statistics: Americans use an average 656 thousand virtual gallons of water per year while the global average is 328 thousand. Also, it takes five-to-ten times more water to make a pound of meat than the same amount of wheat.

One of the worst offenders as far as virtual water: leather shoes. It takes about 4,400 gallons of water to make a pair.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.