Water is a valuable resource on our planet and many regions in the world are facing water scarcity. Water is an absolutely necessary component of our everyday life, not only by the water we directly use for cleaning, laundry, showering, brushing our teeth or flushing the toilet. There is a lot of ‘hidden water’ that we consume through our diet, it is contained in pretty much everything we eat or drink. This amount of water that is needed to provide a certain good or service is called virtual water and is often surprisingly high [1].

The link to food waste is clear: The more food we waste the more water we waste simultaneously – the brown banana is more than just the ripened fruit itself. This is crucial as Climate Change affects the water availability in certain areas and will potentially force us into different consumption patterns of virtual water in the future – even if we don’t live in an affected region ourselves [2].

Here’s a chart to give you an impression about how much water you eat by consuming certain food [1], [3]. You can easily see that meat and dairy products are very high and “contain” several thousand liters of water per kilogram of the end product. Fruits and vegetables are much lower in comparison but still need hundreds of liters before they reach your mouth. 

VirtualWater

You want to learn more about virtual water?

Check http://www.angelamorelli.com/water/ to get a visual impression of how much water you consume everyday and how it is distributed and use http://waterfootprint.org/en/resources/interactive-tools/personal-water-footprint-calculator/personal-calculator-extended/ to calculate your personal water footprint!

 

References

[1] Hoekstra, A. Y., & Chapagain, A. K. (2007). Water Footprints of Nations: Water Use by People as a Function of Their Consumption Pattern. In E. Craswell, M. Bonell, D. Bossio, S. Demuth, N. van de Giesen (Eds.), Integrated Assessment of Water Resources and Global Change: A North-South Analysis (pp. 35-48). Water Resources Management, Volume 21(1), 2007. Dordrecht: Springer.

[2] Orlowsky, B., Gudmundsson, L., Seneviratne, S., & Hoekstra, A. (2014). Todays virtual water consumption and trade under future water scarcity. Environmental Research Letters, 9(7), doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/7/074007

[3] http://waterfootprint.org/en/resources/interactive-tools/product-gallery/

[4] http://www.angelamorelli.com/water/

[5] http://waterfootprint.org/en/resources/interactive-tools/personal-water-footprint-calculator/personal-calculator-extended/

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