Many of us don’t realise just how important water is. Almost none of the products we buy and use on a daily basis would be possible without water.
Water is used in the production of almost all of the products we use and consume on a daily basis from cars, computers and cellphones to bread, butter, cabbage and cheese.
This hidden or virtual water involved in everyday products and industry processes was first explored by John Anthony Allan who won the Stockholm Water prize for his work. He was inspired by Gideon Fishelson from Tel Aviv University, who criticized the government over the amount of water that had been used to produce and export citrus fruits to the European Union.
In 2008 US consumers threw away almost 35 million tons of paper and 28 million tons of plastic.
This is a phenomenal waste of water when you consider that it takes 24 gallons of water to make 1 pound of plastic and 2.64 gallons of water to make a single sheet of A4 paper.
But what can be done?
The answer is simple: Reduce consumption of consumable goods where possible and most importantly recycle. Plastic and paper can be recycled and organic material can be turned into compost. Plastic comes in different grades, depending on the product. For example the plastic used to make rubber for tyres is very different from the plastic used to make an ice cream container.
Here are some other interesting figures regarding water usage in the products we buy:
*A bottle of water. Around 1.85 gallons of water is used to make a single bottle of water, which is double the amount of water that the actual bottle contains.
*A barrel of beer. It takes 1500 gallons of water to make a barrel of beer (which typically contains 32 gallons of booze)
*Gasoline. Up to 2.5 gallons of water are used in the process of refining a 1 gallon of gasoline.
*Paint. It takes 13 gallons of water to produce a gallon of paint.
*A cotton t-shirt. Approximately 400 gallons of water are used to grow the cotton needed to make a t-shirt.
*Tyres. More than 2000 gallons are used to make a single car tyre.
Being aware of the water that goes into making things doesn’t mean cutting out manufactured products altogether. Gymnasiums and fitness studios are expected to have water coolers and businessmen need computers and cellphones to stay in touch with their customers.
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This article was written by Daniel Stevens who is a fan of the great outdoors and when he’s not writing up a storm 😉 that’s where you’re likely to find him.