In this guide, we outline 3 solutions for how individuals can save water in day to day life.
We’ve based this guide on a previous summary about the visible and invisible water footprint individuals are responsible for everyday
Summary – How To Save Water In Daily Life As An Individual
The daily water footprint of individuals is made up of three main things – food, products and services, and direct water use.
Based on this, the main ways an individual might save water on a daily basis are:
- Considering The Foods They Eat, & Minimising Throwing Out Food & Food Waste
- Considering The Products & Services They Use, & Reducing Over Consumption
- Considering Direct Water Use At Home
In each of these areas, there can be both a direct (the water we see) and indirect (the water we don’t see) water footprint.
*Something individuals should be aware of in addition to this information is how water might be saved on a society wide level. This involves looking at how much water is withdrawn globally for agriculture and industry compared to for households, and also, how much water can be lost in public supply pipes BEFORE even getting to households to be used.
1. Decrease The Water Footprint In Your Food
Responsible for the biggest portion of an individual’s daily water footprint by a significant margin is the food we eat and waste.
The water used to produce the food we eat adds up to about 3496 litres a day – of the total 3800 litres of our daily visible and invisible water footprint.
This makes some sense when we consider that agriculture is responsible (on average) for around 70% of global fresh water withdrawals
Two ways to decrease our food related water footprint might be:
- Be mindful of the foods we eat – read more in this guide about various ways an individual might decrease their food related water footprint
- Minimise food waste and throwing out food – try to eat all food that you buy, save and eat leftovers where possible (don’t just throw it out if you don’t eat it), and don’t allow stored food to sit and spoil. Read more about food waste in this guide. Note that foods with high waste rates like fruits and vegetables have a water footprint at the agricultural stage, and irrigated water is indirectly wasted when consumer level waste happens
Using one specific example for foods … let’s look at snacking on bananas vs chocolate …
- It takes … 450 gallons (1700 liters) of water to make a typical 3.5-ounce (100-gram) chocolate bar. That’s about ten bathtubs of water for one bar of chocolate. Most of those gallons are consumed by the cocoa plants in the field.
- The global average water footprint (per kg) is 860 litres for bananas, and 24,000 litres for chocolate
So, bananas might come out on top as a snack.
2. Decrease The Water Footprint In The Products & Services You Use
We use 167 litres of industrial water a day (which makes up a small part of the total 3800 litres of our daily visible and invisible water footprint).
Two ways to decrease our industrial related water footprint might be:
- Be mindful of the water footprint of the products we consume, and services we use – for example, cotton is a water hungry fibre used in textiles, and we know that vehicles use a lot of water in their manufacture and operation. We might look for less water hungry fibres for our clothes, and might buy cars that are more water efficient in their production process. Read more about the water footprint of different everyday products in this guide. In services, we know that wind, solar photovoltaic and natural gas produced electricity might use less water than coal produced electricity, so we may choose energy suppliers in line with this (or you could get energy efficient light bulbs)
- Don’t over consume – the more we consume, the higher our water footprint. Three ways to cutting consumption might include buying higher quality clothes that last longer so we don’t have to buy as many clothes as often, buying a car second hand or waiting an extra few years to upgrade or buy a new car, and using electricity efficiently with energy efficient appliances and devices
3. Decrease Direct Water Footprint In Your Home
We use about 137 litres of direct domestic water in the home every day (of the total 3800 litres of our daily visible and invisible water footprint)
- We use water at home for drinking, cooking, washing, and so on
- We also use water inside and outside the house – a greater share is used outside in gardens and on lawns and plants in hotter and dryer climates
- Roughly – 35% goes towards bathing and showering, 30% to flushing the toilet, 20% to laundry, 10% to cooking and drinking, and 5% to cleaning inside the house
There’s a number of ways we can use less water directly around the house with just a few examples being – fixing leaks (in pipes, taps, the shower, toilets, and so on), not running water unnecessarily in sinks, using water efficient appliances, and having a water efficient sprinkler system.
Read more about water use and saving water around the house in these guides:
- How Much Water We Use At Home & How We Use It
- How Much Water Common Household Appliances & Devices Use
- How To Save Water At Home