Write and Respond 1: My Water Footprint

Living in a place where fresh, clean water is always accessible, it is not too often that I think about how much water I consume on a daily basis. For years now, it has been my routine to just wake up, shower, brush my teeth, eat breakfast, wash my pate, and go about my day; it is basically clockwork. In my twenty years of living, I have never once stopped and said, “How much water have I consumed today?” or even “How much water have I wasted today?” It was not until recently, when honestly, I had to start paying for my own water consumption, that I realized how much water I use every single day. That is when I figured, it would be a cool idea to calculate my personal water footprint, to see where all this water comes from, and goes.

After deciding that I was going to pick this topic, I started to research a little more to answer some of my unanswered questions. I went to a website titled “Water Footprint Network,” where it broke down the actual quantitative amount of water is used for the average person. They mentioned that, “Our use of water is not limited to kitchens, bathrooms and gardens. On a daily basis, we contribute to the consumption of large quantities of water when buying various products, from the food we eat, paper and cotton to biofuel.” They referred to the water that we don’t see as “invisible water,” like the water used to produce the energy we use to make specific products, like the books we read, things around our home, our furniture, and even in the clothes that we wear. Once I started to realize that water was used for every single thing in my life, I used the “personal water footprint calculator,” to put some numbers behind it all.

Attached bellow is a picture of the graph that was created when I entered my information into the footprint calculator. It asked me, what country do I reside in, my gender, how much (if any) meat do I consume, and how much income do I personally make. When I inputted those numbers, the calculator told me that I use about 834 m³ of water per year. Converted into gallons, thats about 220,319 gallons of water per year. When I saw these numbers, I was not too shocked by the amount, but then I thought about it a little deeper. I thought about that number being multiplied by the 7.5 billion people that live on this Earth. Then I imagined how much water I would simply use if I had my own home, with children, pets, etc; my number would be way more! I also calculated that 8 average sized 16oz water bottles equals one gallon of water \((8\times 16oz = 128oz)\) then (128oz = 1 Gallon), so in one year, I use about 1,762,552 bottles of water to live my life. I got that by multiplying my gallons per year given to my by the water footprint calculator (220,319), by the 8 bottles that equal one gallon of water, to find the amount of water (in water bottles to help visualize) that I “technically” use in a year. None of it, other than when I drink water, shower, wash dishes, etc is really “seen” at all. It is really mind blowing to see how much water is actually being used in my life that I have no idea about.

After seeing the gallons and gallons of water going out daily, and also yearly, I couldn’t help but to think about this being an issue. For my life alone, I use about 220,319 gallons of water per year. If I were to multiply that to find a rough estimate of the amount of gallons used by every human on the planet, I would do \(220,319 gallons \times 7.5 billion  people = 1.7 \times 10^{15}\) gallons of water. I asked myself, is the world ever going to run out of water, or is my wasting of water that big of a deal? How can there possibly be enough water to sustain every living thing on this planet if I personally use so much water? To answer those questions, I went back to the article. The article read that in todays world, although water is a renewable, but finite resource, “There is the same amount on earth today as there was when the dinosaurs roamed,” meaning that there is no new water to make up for all the water consumed, wasted, and reused.  It mentioned that, as the worlds population exponentially grows, the available amount of water becomes more and more limited.

Water is essential to every living thing on this planet. Without water, everything, and everyone would simply die. The thought of that, possibly running out, or consuming all the water completely freaked me out, so I decided to take the steps into personally making my footprint less than what it currently is. I figured I start out with saving water on things around my apartment. I plan to start taking shorter showers, cutting off the water when brushing my teeth or brushing my hair, making sure the faucet or shower is completely shut off, not washing small loads so frequently, not using the dishwasher for a few dishes when I could just hand wash them, and basically just doing things that cut my footprint down little by little. An article written by the Water Research Foundation provided graphs and charts that showed the daily consumption of water in a single family home. In my home now, about 45 gallons of water is used a day just to simply flush the toilet (graph below). Although it may seem reasonable, there are toilets flushing everywhere around the world!

As I continued to read, I found that I was not the only one who started to freak out about the amount of water used daily. Companies now, are making “…More efficient appliances and  fixtures… to significantly reduce…residential indoor water use…” For as precious as water is for all living things, it seems as if we just use it so luxuriously. It was eye opening to read all of these articles, and to actually see all that water being flushed down the drain (no pun intended). The fact that water is so accessible, I feel as if myself, and the people around me take water for granted. Even the fact that in some countries people don’t have clean water, it makes me feel awful for wasting it on a 45 minute shower. We all need water to live, so why not pay attention to how much we consume and use, and make the change to help better our Earth.

 

Bibliography :

“Personal Water Footprint.” Home. N.p., n.d. Web.

DeOreo, William B., Peter W. Mayer, Benedykt Dziegielewski, and Jack Kiefer.     Residential End Uses of Water, Version 2: Executive Report. N.p.: Water Research Foundation, 2016. Residential End Uses of Water, Version 2: Executive Report. Water Research Foundation. Web.

“Think Reusable Bottles, Forget Plastic Bottled Water.” Ban the Bottle. Hannah Ellsbury, 16 May 2012. Web.

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1 Response to Write and Respond 1: My Water Footprint

  1. lmg5777 says:

    When reading your piece, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my Write and Respond piece. Your topic spanned across the entire spectrum of water use by a single person from the actual water we use to the “invisible water” you mentioned being used in the manufacture of the goods we use on a daily basis. In my piece I focused on the water wastage in simply flushing a toilet. Your statistics and numbers reflect my findings and your methods of cutting you water footprint interested me. As for toilets, a simple switch to water efficient appliances can change your water usage by gallons per day. To expand this into other aspects of your day makes me wonder how much you could potentially save. From just a quick research effort, the Water Sense brand alone has products in toilets, shower heads, faucets, irrigation controllers, and sprinkler heads. Energy Star another efficiency brand has products that use less water ranging from washing machines and dryers to cooking appliances. This added to your habitual changes, such as shorter showers, could save even larger amounts of water without a drastic change to one’s life. By reading you article a concern of water use was brought to light and it is through simple changes that were mentioned in both our writings that we could really make a difference as an individual.

    https://www.epa.gov/watersense/watersense-products
    https://www.energystar.gov/products/appliances/clothes_washers

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