The Visible & Invisible Water We Use Everyday

This is a quick guide summarising the visible and invisible water we use in our everyday lives.

Visible water being the water we see, and invisible water being water that we don’t see that is used at a different part of the product lifecycle (such as the farming/growing stage before we eat a piece of fruit for example)

This is a summary and paraphrasing of the page You can find the full link the the page at the bottom of this page.


Summary – The Invisible & Visible Water We Use Everyday

What we see below is that the food we eat and waste makes up a significant portion of our individual water footprints compared to say the domestic or industrial water footprint of many people

Of the 3800 litres of visible and invisible water a day we use – 137 litres goes to domestic water use, 167 litres to industrial water use, and 3496 litres (or 92%) to food

Eating diets high in animal meat, and especially meats like beef, usually leads to a higher water footprint than vegetarian based diets

Grass fed beef might use less water than corn and grain fed beef (but, some people also question the conversion efficiency in the feed of different farmed animals)

Reducing food waste might be another way to save on a person’s food water footprint

You can also read more in this guide about how much water different foods and everyday products take to make.


Total Water We Use Everyday

We use about 3800 litres of visible and invisible water a day


Domestic Water Use

We use about 137 litres of domestic water in the home every day.

We use water at home for drinking, cooking, washing.

35% goes towards bathing and showering, 30% to flushing the toilet, 20% to laundry, 10% to cooking and drinking, and 5% to cleaning.

Domestic water use is visible water we can see we are using


Industrial Water Use

We use about 167 litres of industrial water a day.

This water is found in the production of the industrial products we consume everyday, such as paper, cotton, and clothes.

Industrial water use in invisible because it is used on fibre crops, in factories etc. before the produce get to us


Water In Food We Eat

The water used to produce the food we eat adds up to about 3496 litres a day

This is about 92% of the total water we use everyday

Water for food is the water used in the production of the food we consume

Water for food is also invisible

Beef As An Example Of Water In The Food We Eat – “In an industrial beef production system it takes on average three years before the animal is slaughtered to produce about 200 kilos of boneless beef. During the three years the cow consumes nearly 1300 kg of grains such as wheat, oats, barley, corn, dry peas, and other small grains. The cow also consumes 7200 kg of roughages such as pasture, dry hay, silage, and other roughages. The production of all the grains and roughages requires 3060000 litres of water. The cow also drinks 24000 litres of water in the three years. It takes about 7000 litres for servicing the farmhouse and for slaughtering processes. In total, we need 3091000 litres of water for producing 200 kilos of boneless beef. This means that to produce 1 kilogram of boneless beef we need 15 400 litres of water”

Other Examples Of Food Water Footprints (litres per kilo):

Coffee – 18 900 (litres of water to produce one kilo)

Beef – 15 400

Sheep – 10 400

Pork – 6000

Goat – 5500

Chicken – 4300

Cheese – 3180

Rice – 2500

Soyabeans – 2145

Wheat – 1830

Sugar – 1780

Barley – 1425

Maize – 1220

Apples – 822


Agriculture Is Getting More Efficient With Water Use

Science and technology is helping farmers get a higher yield (for crops and livestock) from the same amount of water.


How We As Consumers Can Help Save Water

The average daily water consumption of a meat-eating person is 5000 litres of water per day.

The average for a vegetarian is 2500 litres

Reducing the amount of meat eaten might help save water

The type of meat you eat makes a difference.

Grass fed meat is almost always better (in terms of water use) than corn or grain fed meat

Agri corporations and supermarkets in a lot of cases have grain or corn fed meat

Most developed countries can waste 30% of their food – so don’t waste food if you don’t want to waste invisible water





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