Did you know that the average European uses 144 liters (!) of water a day? That's a large amount considering that in less fortunate parts of the world, the lack of drinking water is already a serious problem. The European Commission has estimated that at least 11 % of Europe's population and 17 % of its territory have been affected by water scarcity to date. So for the future of us all, it's important to reduce your water footprint. Read our article for tips on how to reduce it!
Let's start from the beginning: what is a water footprint?
In the 1990s, it became increasingly clear that we were destroying the Earth at a rate that was a direct route to disaster. To illustrate these issues, various indicators have been developed, such as the ecological footprint, carbon footprint, and water footprint, which show how much human activity affects the planet's resources. We've heard a lot about carbon emissions, greenhouse gases, and plastic pollution over the past decades, but water scarcity has been a minor concern. Yet although much of the planet is covered in water, only 3% of its water is freshwater! We're not even at the point where it could happen in our lifetime, as water scarcity is already a serious problem in nearly a third of Europe.
Part of this is the water footprint, a measure of how much water you use directly or indirectly in your lifetime. This includes the amount you drink and use for cooking, washing, watering, or cleaning. What is less obvious is that you also use water indirectly, as it is needed to produce energy, goods, and services.
What is the threat of water scarcity?
The first thing that comes to mind is the lack of tap water, which is serious enough in itself. But beyond that, there are countless other uses for water that you wouldn't even think of. For example, did you know that...
- to make your morning coffee, you need 140 litres
- 8,000 litres to make the jeans you're wearing
- and it takes 2400 litres of water to make your burger for lunch?
So water scarcity affects not only drinking water supplies directly, but also agriculture, the food industry and a large proportion of the products and services you use regularly in your daily life.
Tips to help you save your water footprint.
At this point, we could give you tips like turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, but you already know that. Instead, let's look at some eco-conscious practices you might not have heard of!
Reuse it yourself!
The best way to do this is by collecting rainwater, which you can then use to water your plants or pre-soak your clothes. You'll be doing a lot for a sustainable world. On the other hand, you can connect your sink and toilet with a small water collection tank, so you can recycle the water you spill when washing your hands. You can also use the detergent water leftover after mopping, to flush the toilet, as it doesn't need drinking water quality anyway, so it's a win-win situation!
Learn about recycled water!
Water recycling is becoming increasingly important as societies' water demand is increasing and water resources are finite. The process involves treating wastewater chemically, physically, and biologically, and the end result is water that can be reused.
By recycling water, industrial companies can save huge amounts of drinking water, which in the long term can lead to a more sustainable and healthier ecosystem for all. And how can you do your part? By making a choice! Give preference to companies that you know have a strong focus on environmental issues!
The NextGen study shows that nearly ¾ of the population in major European countries would use recycled water as drinking water, which is a reassuring sign. Social engagement is very important in the area of water-saving. Do you want to do something to protect water?
Buy cleaning products made with recycled water!
These will help you achieve the perfect cleaning result at home, and when they go down the drain they turn into organic waste that can be turned back into eco-friendly cleaning products in time. Plus, they are often sustainable in other ways, like being made from recycled plastic.