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What is a water footprint?

You probably love your jeans, your coffee and your cotton t-shirts. All of those items, and everything else you consume, comes at a cost, and it’s not just at the cash register. This cost is measured as a “water footprint,” since consumer products are made using water.


The water footprint is the total amount of water used in the production of our clothes and food. The footprint calculates the effects and stress put on the water supply. For instance, it takes 2,000 gallons to yield one pair of jeans, while a cotton t-shirt uses up 400 gallons, according to author Stephen Leahy, an environmental journalist, who wrote the book Your Water Footprint.


Measuring a product’s water footprint creates awareness, and perhaps leads to action in an effort to curtail water waste. The next time you are at a restaurant, you might want to order a beer instead of a soda since beer “only” uses up 20 gallons of water, while a soda is more like 50. Similarly, tea is produced with only nine gallons of water while coffee uses 37.


Ironically, another big user of water is the plastic water bottle. It takes forty-eight ounces of water to produce one sixteen-ounce bottle—that’s three times more water than the water you get in the bottle!


What’s more, in tests conducted by the National Resources Defense Council (NDRC), some bottled water samples contained contaminants and after ten weeks, some samples were shown to have a chemical known to cause hormonal disruptions in humans—all the more reason to use a reliable at-home water filter to guarantee a constant supply of safe and clean water.


In the end, knowing the water footprint of a product can help us be more conscious of our own water consumption, influence our purchase decisions and help us conserve one of our most critical resources. Curious about your own water footprint? Try this calculator.


One way to help reduce your water footprint is by using a reusable water bottle. Pair that with the Coway Aquamega 100, and you're on your way to living a cleaner, healthier lifestyle.