With the drought in California, freshwater conservation efforts might bring to mind the following image:
But, to make the biggest impact in freshwater conservation, this image should come to mind:
Water that is lucidly flowing in our household, by showering, flushing the toilet, and doing laundry, actually accounts for only 8% of our water consumption. The rest of the 92% chunk of the water that we consume, which we don’t explicitly see, is used to produce the food that we eat and the industrial products that we use.1
Consider 1 kg of beef. It takes years to feed a cow before it is slaughtered for its meat. In this time, we must provide water for the cow to drink as well as to grow the food that the cow must eat. In total, ~15,000 liters of water is used to put 1 kg of beef on your plate!
Next time you want to conserve water, think less about the time you spend in the shower and more about the food that you waste. In the United States, ~40% of all food goes to waste.
The following, excellent visualization does a much better job at conveying this than my blog post.
1 Of course, assumptions go into computing these numbers. Different sources will report different percentages depending on the assumptions that they use. I took these from Angela Morelli’s visualization.comments powered by Disqus