Preserving the Environment

What’s Your Water Footprint? Find Out Here

November 3, 2014
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What’s Your Water Footprint? Find Out Here
With the Water Footprint Calculator, you can approximate the number of gallons you and your household uses a day. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The number of gallons you use each day might surprise you.

Did you know that the average American uses an incredible 1,190 gallons of water per day? We know that number sounds impossibly high — but it’s important to know that the majority of H2O we use isn’t in plain sight.

As the GRACE Communications Foundation writes, there’s hidden water in everyday products. Besides brushing our teeth and washing dishes, most of the water we inadvertently use is in the products we buy (it takes 900 – 1,500 gallons of water to grow the cotton for a single pair of jeans) and the food we eat (one little almond uses 1.1 gallons of water).

The farming and manufacturing process uses up so much water that “every piece of paper and plastic container we toss in the trash is just water down the drain,” the environmental advocacy organization warns. (This means please reduce, reuse and recycle as often as possible!)

So how much water do you use? With the foundation’s Water Footprint Calculator, you can approximate the number of gallons you and your household uses a day. Once you fill out the quick survey, the site even creates a personalized tip sheet on how you can conserve water in your own home, such as:

1. Switching to water-efficient appliances
According to the organization, a low-flow shower head can reduce water flow 1 gallon per minute; a low-flow faucet reduces water flow by 3.5 gallons per minute and a low-flow toilet reduces water use up to 2.5 gallons per flush. For those who don’t mind the ick-factor, “letting it mellow” instead of flushing saves 10 or more gallons per day.

If you don’t have the funds to upgrade your appliances, there are cheaper ways to save water. In drought-ridden California, San Francisco entrepreneurs are suggesting that placing a good ol’ brick in your toilet’s tank can save around a half of gallon of water per flush (a family of four save around 50 gallons a week).

2. Taking a quick shower
You’ve probably heard this green-living nugget already, but shortening your shower time saves a lot of water. Every minute you reduce in the shower cuts your water usage by 2.5 to 10 gallons per minute. Same goes for turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth or wash your face, which could save 4 or more gallons of water per day.

3. Quit slaving away at the sink
We’ve mentioned before that you can save up to 5,000 gallons of water annually by only running your dishwasher when it’s full instead washing dishes by hand. GRACE also suggests purchasing dishwashers that are Energy Star (which are EPA-approved consumer products that not only saves water but electricity as well) and using fewer dishes when you cook and serve meals.

4. Taking public transportation
Consider taking a bus, riding a bike or carpooling. Cars not only emit a ton of harmful carbon, but the manufacturing process uses a lot of water. “It takes 75,000 gallons of water to produce one ton of steel,” according to GRACE. “Since the average car contains about 2,150 pounds of steel, that means over 80,000 gallons of water is needed to produce the finished steel for one car.”

If you can’t get anywhere without a car, switching to a fuel-efficient vehicle such as electrics or hybrids make a big difference. That’s because gas also uses a lot of water: It takes 1 to 2.5 gallons of water to refine 1 gallon of gasoline.

5. Eating less meat

We know that steaks and dairy products are tasty, but the average meat-eating American uses up to 1,000 gallons of water per day “primarily through the water required for the large amounts of feed the animal consumes,” the organization says. By eating fewer animal products, you can cut water use by hundreds of gallons per day.

MORE WAYS TO SAVE WATER: If Your Community is Parched, Here’s How You Can Help Conserve Water

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