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How to be a water-saving superhero

Consumer Issues

By Bridget Day on 22 March 2017

Today is World Water Day, which is celebrated all around the world,
so here are some interesting (and concerning) facts about water...

Water is all around us - with 97% of the world’s water supply contained in the oceans leaving only 3% is fresh water which can be found in the ice caps, as ground water, in rivers and lakes and in the atmosphere.

We all know that water is a scarce commodity, the El Nino drought of 201/2016 was a stark reminder that we are at the mercy of mother nature.  For much of South Africa the recent heavy rains have relieved some of that pressure, and the rising levels of the Vaal dam have been cause for celebration. However other parts of the country are still drought stricken, and reports say that Cape Town has just over 100 days of useable water left in its dams.

Here is some info on water that we thought you might find useful.

Water we use directly

Water is part of our lifestyle, we use it for cooking, drinking, sanitation, and recreation.  Here are some common ways to reduce your water footprint.

  1. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth
  2. Only flush your toilet when essential (or use a bottle in the cistern to reduce water volumes)
  3. Shower instead of bathing, and even then, take shorter showers
  4. Fix leaks in your home, and report leaks in the street
  5. Collect rain water and use it in your garden
  6. Set up a grey water system to reuse your grey water
  7. Plant water-wise and indigenous plants
  8. Buy water-efficient appliances

And if you are wondering what your water footprint it... here is a  fun way to find out, use the water calculator!

Discover your Water Footprint

 

Water we use indirectly

There are other ways in which we ' consume'  water, through the production of many materials and products we use every day, such as:

 

Cars - It takes 75,000 gallons of water to produce one ton of steel.  80,000 gallons of water is needed to produce the finished steel for one average car – you do the math!

Petrol for that car  - about  1 to 2.5 gallons of water goes into the process of refining a gallon of petrol

Plastic - it takes about 24 gallons of water to make 1 pound of plastic, which is used in so many things around us

Clothes - the water footprint of 1 pound of cotton is 1,320 gallons. That’s equates to over 700 gallons of water for a simple cotton shirt!

Animal products - these generally have a larger water footprint than crop products, here are some examples:

  • meat from beef cattle uses 15,400 litre/kg
  • meat from sheep uses 10,400 litre/kg
  • meat from pigs uses 6,000 litre/kg
  • meat from goats uses 5,500 litre/kg
  • chicken meat uses  4,300 litre/kg
  • the global average water footprint of milk is 1,020 litre/kg
  • the water footprint of cheese is 5,060 litre/kg
  • the water footprint of eggs is 3300 litre/kg. (One egg of 60 gram has a water footprint of about 200 litres!)

 

Water in the ocean

 And it is not just fresh water…. when we look at the oceans there is even more cause for concern.  So you know by now that 97% of the world’s water supply is contained in the oceans , but did you know that 70% of the oxygen we breathe is created by marine plants?  Yet our oceans are at risk due to a number of factors, which include:

  • toxic pollution from industries (chemicals, oils and other toxic substances)
  • land run off (pesticides, petroleum,fertilisers, animal waste)
  • oil spills
  • littering - over 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year, and studies indicate that there is over 269,000 tons of plastic pollution floating in the world's oceans (and another 4 billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer in the ocean depths)

This plastic get's eaten by all sorts of marine life and (apart from the immediate damage to the marine life) this builds up in the food chain, which eventually affects our food supply too. Some tragic stats on the ocean are:

  • 100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement (excluding the ones that are never found)
  • Approximately 1 million sea birds also die from plastic 
  • At least 66% of the world’s fish stocks are suffering from plastic ingestion.
  • Scientists have listed 200  ‘dead zones’ in the oceans,  where no live organisms can grow

And finally, bottled water….

We all know how important it is to drink water, but it has now become so common that in the USA, bottled water surpassed carbonated soft drinks to become the largest beverage category by volume in the United States in 2016, according to research and consulting firm Beverage Marketing Corp.  This may seem like a healthy trend, but at what cost?

 

The true cost of bottled water is significantly higher than most people are aware, as it includes the amount of fossil fuels consumed in the manufacturing, packaging, transportation, disposal and recycling.  In fact, the cost of producing bottled water (if you account for manufacturing, transport and packaging) can work out to 10,000 times more expensive than tap water.

 

In stark contrast, there is a growing need for resources to create a sustainable water supply in  developing countries,  these resources could go towards developing water treatment and sanitation systems, rainwater harvesting and digging new wells to support affordable sources of water in the future.

 

In addition to this, plastic bottles contribute to the vast  amount of plastic waste ending up in our oceans, and then… well, you read the previous section, so you know how that goes.

 

In light of all this, one of the quickest ways to make a positive and lasting impact,
is to get yourself a reusable water bottle and to encourage others to do the same.

 

Benefits of a reusable water bottle

Topping up your reusable water bottle will reduce your water footprint by

  • reducing your plastic consumption.
  • which means you will create less waste
  • and be truly kinder to marine life
  • plus it will cost you less

Basically, you will be an environmentally friendly super-hero and we will be seriously impressed!


 

References

http://www.plasticoceans.org/the-facts/

http://oceancrusaders.org/plastic-crusades/plastic-statistics/

http://everylittledrop.com.au/knowledge-center/the-true-cost-of-bottled-water/

http://www.edenproject.com/learn/for-everyone/water-saving-tips

https://freshwaterwatch.thewaterhub.org/blogs/how-much-water-your-bottle

http://www.thecattlesite.com/news/49594/how-much-water-does-it-take-to-produce-meat/

http://www.watercalculator.org/

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-bottled-water-idUSKBN16G39C