“5 foods that destroy your water footprint!”
And how to save more than 200 000 liters of water per year.
I guess that you probably never consciously thought about the water footprint (WFP) of foods. Honestly, you do not have to. However, if you have a certain environmental awareness, which I strongly suppose you have, and if you are curious to change small patterns to solve big problems, this article is for you!
Due to the fact, that there is no harm to make you even more curious, I want to ask you a very simple question, which I will answer in the end:
How much water is needed to produce one of your beloved breakfast eggs or omelets?
Bear your guess in mind or write it down if your memory is as leaky as mine. :D
Without further ado, let’s get started with 5 simple tricks that will allow you to reduce your yearly water consume by more than 200 000 liters! Yes, I know this sounds questionable. Nevertheless, the next 5 paragraphs will prove your gut feeling wrong.
Note for impatient readers: you do not have to read the following texts to understand the message; the graphics should be enough.
Trick no 1: Get yourself some chicks
No, I am not pushing the pick-up scene with this trick. Instead I want to harm the beef-industry. Imagine yourself eating once per month a delicate, big beefsteak and showering at the same time for more than 5 hours nonstop.
Why showering 5 hours? Because the water consumption of a 5-hour shower is equal to the amount needed to produce your lovely beefsteak. Therefore, I said: Get yourself some chicks aka chicken, which only takes a 1-hour shower to produce.
Trick no 2: Rice is not so nice
You want to eat some rice and think the WFP is as a tiny as some mice? False! In fact, 350 liters of water are required to produce 100g of raw rice, while the same amount of raw pasta only consumed 190 liters.
Secret trick: 500g of raw potatoes have a WFP of just 125 liters.
Trick no 3: A cheesy WFP
You will hopefully agree that cheesy people are terrible. Unfortunately, the same goes for the WFP of cheese. Want to eat one slice? Okay, then fill two bathtubs with each 120 liters of water. You can easily see that the sacrifice of one cheesy slice per day saves 190 liters if substituted with margarine.
Trick no Egg:
Oh wait, that is no trick. I just wanted to ask you if your estimation for the WFP of one egg has changed while seeing those huge numbers? Before your patiently waiting mind gets the stimulation it craves, aka “please prove me right”, here are the last two tricks.
Trick no 4: Coffee — my o my
Do you love coffee? I do. One cup: 140 liters water poured down your throat. Congratulations.
No, for real, I really cannot emphasize this enough: coffee is 99% a luxury. Please do not drink it as a commodity because, one day the most important commodity, which is named “water”, will be scarce due to the fact, that we are coffee-lovers. Drink water instead or a cup of tea (40 liters).
Trick no 5: Chocolate — the leaky ocean
Sorry for telling you this: chocolate has one of the biggest WFP per gram. I even feel guilty for writing this down: 170 liters of freshwater for one gram of chocolate…
You are laying in your bed on a rainy Sunday, watching House of Cards or reading Game of Thrones, when suddenly and first very subtle, a craving occurs: “I want chocolate!!!”. You stand up to go to the kitchen and get yourself a nice bar of nougat. Back in your bed, you are happily feeling the smooth crème on your tongue while Frank Underwood turns his head towards the camera and says:
“We could supply a poor child in Africa for one and a half year with fresh water every day or you could eat your chocolate bar. I can only speak for myself personally: I would eat the bar!”
As we all know, Frank is cool however, he is also a ruthless monster. Are you eating the bar or instead a bag of chips with a WFP of 185 liters?
Generalization, assumptions, estimations and feelings of guilt
Yes, you are right. One could argue that I generalize things based on assumptions and estimations while trying to make the reader feel guilty. Nevertheless, in the end of the day I would be happy to join your “Fuck-those-people-list” if you would realize that the five tricks are actually very easy to implement. Before eating your next steak, drinking your afternoon coffee or crave your breakfast egg think about those good alternatives that consume far less water.
While talking about breakfast eggs, here is the amount of water required to produce one egg: 200 liters. If you guessed a ridiculous high or low number, write it down in the comments. Would be fun to see your estimation.
You finished the water footprint guide 1.0!
Therefore, I would like to ask you if you would like to read a water footprint guide 2.0 with 5 new foods. Furthermore, I could explain, what the green, blue and grey water footprints are and why all three are super important. If you are an infinite kind person, let me know in the comment section which article you prefer.
Thanks for reading!
If you leave this article wiser than before, I am a happy man! Hit this clapping hands to help other people see the story.
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Hoekstra et al (2011). The water footprint assessment manual.
Publisher: Earthscan. Available under: http://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/TheWaterFootprintAssessmentManual_2.pdf
Mekonnen, M.M. and Hoekstra, A.Y. (2010). The green, blue and grey water footprint of crops and derived crop products.
Publisher: UNESCO-IHE. Available under: http://www.waterfootprint.org/Reports/Report47-WaterFootprintCrops-Vol1.pdf