Down the drain – our use and abuse of water

Source: grist.org

Source: grist.org

A map entitled “World of Rivers” included as an insert within the April 2010 issue of National Geographic magazine provides an analysis of how much water is actually consumed (hidden water usage) to produce common everyday goods. It is an eye-opening set of data. One thing the data definitely highlights is the water conservation benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet. It also highlights the considerable amount of water it takes for producing oil when compared to other forms of energy, including other fossil fuels.

Whenever possible, new or updated numbers are provided from the National Geographic website. Here is the data:

Meat and dairy products

  • 1,799 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef (updated on website)
  • 1,382 gallons of water to produce one pound of sausage
  • 880 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk
  • 756 gallons of water to produce one pound of pork
  • 731 gallons of water to produce one pound of sheep (from the website)
  • 589 gallons of water to make processed cheese
  • 468 gallons of water to produce one pound of chicken (updated on website)
  • 400 gallons of water to produce one pound of eggs
  • 371 gallons of water to produce one pound of fresh cheese
  • 138 gallons of water to produce one pound of yogurt
  • 127 gallons of water to produce one pound of goat (from the website)

Fruit, grains, and vegetables (rain and irrigation water both are factored in)

  • 449 gallons of water for one pound of rice (from the website)
  • 379 gallons of water for one pound of figs
  • 198 gallons of water for one pound of barley (from the website)
  • 193 gallons of water for one pound of plums
  • 185 gallons of water for one pound of cherries
  • 154 gallons of water for one pound of avocados
  • 132 gallons of water for one pound of wheat (from the website)
  • 109 gallons of water for one pound of corn
  • 103 gallons of water for one pound of bananas
  • 84 gallons of water for one pound of apples
  • 79 gallons of water for one pound of grapes
  • 55 gallons of water for a pound of oranges
  • 43 gallons of water for a pound of beans
  • 33 gallons of water for a pound of strawberries
  • 31 gallons of water for a pound of potatoes
  • 25 gallons of water for a pound of eggplant

Common goods

  • 2,800 gallons of water to produce one cotton bed sheet
  • 1,008 gallons of water to produce one gallon of wine
  • 766 gallons of water to produce one cotton t-shirt
  • 634 gallons of water to produce one hamburger
  • 53 gallons of water to produce one glass of milk
  • 37 gallons of water to produce one cup of coffee
  • 32 gallons of water to produce on glass of wine
  • 20 gallons of water to produce on glass of beer
  • 9 gallons of water to produce one cup of tea

Energy (all from the updated website)

  • Oil consumes 1.01 gallons of water for each kilowatt-hour
  • Coal consumes 0.15 gallons of water for each kilowatt-hour
  • Natural gas consumes 0.10 gallons of water for each kilowatt-hour
  • Nuclear energy (uranium) consumes 0.09 gallons of water each kilowatt-hour
  • Wind energy consumer 0.00 gallons of water for each kilowatt-hour

Source: National Geographic, April 2010 (unless otherwise noted)

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This entry was posted in Advocacy, agriculture, Animals, beer, civics, climate change, coffee shops/cafes, commerce, consumerism, culture, education, environment, Food, food systems, geography, globalization, health, humanity, land use, nature, planning, product design, Science, spatial design, Statistics, sustainability, weather and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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