Water is essential for life. We need water so that our metabolism functions and we can go about our daily lives. In Germany, the drinking water supply is mostly guaranteed, but this is not the case everywhere on the Blue Planet. In this article we want to take a closer look at how much water we consume, why we should save water and to what extent our consumption behaviour has an influence on water scarcity in other countries.
Water footprint definition
Our daily water footprint, i.e. the water that we consume every day, is made up of many components: We drink at least 1.5 litres per day and consume about 125 litres of water in the household. Most of this water consumption occurs in the bathroom, for example when showering or flushing the toilet. However, our water footprint does not stop there: In total, every German uses an average of 4,000 litres of water a day. Here, the so-called virtual water is also taken into account.
What is virtual water?
When it comes to our own water consumption, our thoughts often wander directly to the water we see and feel: In the bathroom when showering or in the kitchen when washing up. It is easy to forget that the products we consume or use also require water for their production. This water is called virtual water. Since we do not see this water, it is often forgotten. Yet it makes up the largest portion of our daily water consumption. Especially food produces a lot of virtual water that is not directly visible when consumed. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the actual water consumption of regularly consumed products, in order to be able to actively reduce its daily consumption.
Virtual water: examples
To get a sense of virtual water use, here are some foods and their virtual water use. To put the numbers in perspective: A bath uses an average of 140 liters of water.
Water scarcity due to water wastage
Even if water is sufficiently available as a resource in Germany, our behavior also influences the water scarcity in other countries. Virtual water is created where the food grows. So depending on where our food comes from, we also consume water in those countries. In reality, ⅔ of our virtual water consumption occurs abroad, which totals to over 2,000 liters a day. This makes it clear that careless consumption in Germany can lead to water shortages elsewhere. This is enhanced when these foods are water-intensive to grow but are harvested in water-scarce regions.
Saving water: tips for everyday life
You can quickly start reducing your water consumption with simple tips. The easiest way to do this is to be mindful in your everyday life and, step by step, tackle the areas in your household that consume a lot of water. For this, we also published an IGTV on our Instagram channel where we take you on a water-free shopping tour through the supermarket. We've put together some suggestions on where to start here.
Virtual water saving
Eating regionally / seasonally
Since most virtual water is consumed in the form of imported food, paying attention to a regional and seasonal diet has an especially big impact. In addition to transportation distances, this also means less water is needed for food that is otherwise grown in water-scarce regions..
Reduce meat consumption
As already shown above, meat has a high water consumption, which is due to the virtual water requirements of the animals and their feed. If you reduce your meat consumption, you can use significantly less water. Just by going vegetarian one or more days per week, you can reduce your water footprint significantly: a vegetarian has a 40% smaller water footprint.
Replace cow's milk with oat drink
If you drink a 200ml glass of cow's milk every day, you will use about 44,000 liters of virtual water in one year. This corresponds to about one bathtub a day. If you switch to oat drink instead, you save 11 times as much water and use only 4,000 liters per year. 16% of milk production is also thrown away due to its perishable nature. Blue Farm Oat Base additionally prevents this food waste by allowing you to mix exactly as much oat drink as you need. Here you can buy the Oat Base directly in the Farm Shop.
In addition, you can also start replacing water-intensive foods in your diet with more sustainable alternatives. Like on Instagram, we want to provide inspiration to replace water-intensive products with more sustainable alternatives to make everyday life more sustainable.
Saving water in the household
Showering instead of bathing
We use the most water in everyday life for personal hygiene. Bathing uses about twice as much water as showering does, so a small change already has a big effect.
Replace shower head with a water-saving alternative
When it comes to showering, it is also advisable to switch to a water-saving shower head. These usually have a smaller circumference or a flow restrictor, which means less water comes out of the shower head. In addition, they also often mix air into the water, which in addition to reducing water also results in a softer feeling.
Turning off the water while brushing your teeth
If you leave the water running while brushing your teeth, about 12 liters of fresh drinking water will flow down the drain. This can easily be saved with just one action. A toothbrush cup can also help.
Load the dishwasher fully and run it on the eco programme
A common myth is that dishwashers use more water than washing dishes by hand does. As long as you make sure to load the dishwasher to full capacity and run it in the eco program, this is not true. Washing smaller amounts of dishes on a regular basis uses more water compared to doing it by hand.
If you have a garden, you can collect rainwater to use for watering, for example. In this way, the natural water cycle is not interrupted and you also save the cost of fresh water.
Water reduction is - as so many sustainability issues are - not about being perfect, but about doing your best through conscious actions. By taking simple steps and making conscious choices about your water consumption, you can do a lot to reduce your footprint. And why not start with that over coffee or morning cereal with the Blue Farm Oat Base muesli?