South Africans consume, per capita, 2500 litres of water per day, but not by drinking or cooking or gardening alone. What we overlook is just how much is required for production of those goods we take for granted. Called ‘virtual water’, it determines our water footprint (visible and virtual water used) as individuals, businesses and a nation. To produce an apple weighing around 100 grams, 70 litres of water is used.
One slice of wheat bread requires 40 litres and a cup of coffee, 140. The water footprint of a beer, 75 litres, pales in comparison to that of the hamburger that usually accompanies it, which comes in at a whopping 2400 litres. Beef requires a full 15 500 litres of water to produce just 1kg. One A4 sheet of 80gr paper, processed from wood, requires 10 litres of water.
Something to consider before printing out the joke email that will be discarded later. The impact of virtual water can be either negative or positive. An obvious problem arises when many of the goods demanded by modern consumers are grown or manufactured in countries with already stretched resources.
According to the WWF we are facing a global fresh-water crisis, and South Africa is on the list of critical countries.To calculate your water footprint and read more about the research and work being done www.waterfootprint.org