If there's going to be sufficient water to meet everyone's needs--and those of rivers and fish and birds we're going to need to shrink our footprints and share Earth's water more equitably.
This post is part of National Geographic's Freshwater Initiative.
By now, most of us probably turn off the tap while brushing our teeth. If we've lived through a drought maybe we've shaved a couple minutes off our showers, and even ripped out some thirsty turf grass and planted drought-tolerant shrubs.
What more can we do to conserve water?
As it turns out, quite a lot.
The stuff of life is just plain thirsty. Embedded in that hamburger is perhaps 630 gallons of water--most of it going to grow the corn to feed the cow. And that cotton T-shirt probably gulped some 760 gallons between field and factory. The mobility of our lives takes water, too--about 13 gallons of H2O for every gallon of gasoline at the pump.
Added all up, the average American lifestyle demands nearly 2,000 gallons a day--about twice the global average. If there's going to be sufficient water to meet everyone's needs--and those of rivers and fish and birds and mussels, too--we're going to need to shrink our footprints and share Earth's finite water more equitably.
Saving water at home--indoors and outdoors--is an important place to start, because it helps protect your drinking water source. But on average, home water use makes up only 5% of the average American's daily water footprint. Diet--at 55 percent--accounts for the lion's share, followed by electricity use and transportation at 35 percent. Purchases of clothes, computers, magazines and other consumer goods make up the remaining 5 percent.