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Surprising Water Consumers

While we typically think of conserving water by turning off the faucet, taking shorter showers, and using efficient appliances, there are several surprising water consumers you may not think about.  Our diet, clothing, and our household electricity all use surprising amounts of water in their manufacturing.  By making a few small changes in what we consume, we can make an even greater impact on water conservation!


Diet

National Geographic estimates that the amount of water it takes to produce the average American diet (approximately 1,000 gallons per person per day) is more than the global average per person daily demand for all activities(900 gallons per day for diet, household use, transportation, energy, and the consumption of material goods). Try these things to reduce your water use.

  • Eat less meat

A serving of poultry takes about 90 gallons of water to produce.  Transportation of this chicken to your plate also demands water (gas costs water to make).  On average, a vegan (someone that does not eat meat or dairy products) indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons less water per day than a person with an average American diet. Consider cutting back on meat at least one day a week.

  • Drink less coffee

A cup of coffee takes 55 gallons of water to make, most of which is used to grow the beans.


Industry—Apparel, Home Furnishings, Electronics, and Paper

According to recent reports, nearly 5% of all U.S. water withdrawals are used to fuel industry and the production of many of the material goods we stock up on weekly, monthly, and yearly.

  • Buy clothing smartly

It takes about 100 gallons of water to grow and process a single pound of cotton, and the average American goes through about 35 pounds of new cotton material each year. Only buy what you truly need.

  • Buy recycled goods and recycle them when you are finished

Recycling a pound of paper (less than the weight of your average newspaper) saves about 3.5 gallons of water. Buying recycled paper products saves water too, as it takes about six gallons of water to produce a dollar worth of paper. 

  • Repurpose or resell goods

Find a new use or sell things that you no longer need or want. Turn old shirts into dust rags; turn cardboard boxes into a playhouse for your kids. Here are just a few great ideas for repurposing or reusing old items.  

  • Take care of your electronics and use them as long as possible

The water required to create your laptop could wash nearly 70 loads of laundry in a standard machine. Find ways to get the most use of your electronics by using them yourself, reselling or recycling them.


Electricity and Travel

  • Reduce your traveling needs

A gallon of gasoline takes nearly 13 gallons of water to produce. Combine your errands, car pool to work, drive fuel efficient cars, or take public transportation to reduce both your energy and water use. 

Flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco, about 700 miles round-trip, could cost you more than 9,000 gallons of water, or enough for almost 2,000 average dishwasher loads.  A cross-country airplane trip (about 6,000 miles) could be worth more than 1,700 standard toilet flushes.  Traveling from Chicago to Istanbul is just about 10,000 miles round trip, costing enough water to run electricity in the average American home for one person for more than five years.



 


Want to know more about our nation's water?

Visit the EPA's website to find great resources and learn about our water supply, shortages and impacts in the United States.

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