Personal water consumption is not limited to direct household water consumption but also the indirect one. The Water Footprint Network (“WFN”) defined the personal water footprint as “the amount of water you use in your daily life, including the water used to grow the food you eat, to produce the energy you use and for all the products in your daily life – your books, music, house, car, furniture and the clothes you wear” .
Our diet has the most significant impact on our water footprint. Livestock farming accounts for 20 to 33 % of all freshwater consumption in the world, mainly due to water usage for animal feed. A kilogram of meat requires five to ten kilograms of feed, whereas the production of a hamburger from farm to fork is equivalent to having 35 showers. In terms of feed and water footprint, it would thus be way more efficient to eat the same amount of maize or soy eaten by a cow, by ourselves. Different diets have therefore different water footprints. In the Netherlands, a vegetarian diet (2700 liters per day) uses 40 % less water than a carnivorous diet (4300 liters per day), while a vegan diet saves even more.
Another major consumer of water is coffee because it is grown in tropical fields prone to severe water evaporation. Producing sufficient coffee beans for one cup of coffee requires 140 liters of water which are equivalent to 1000 coffee cups of filtered water. Additionally, water resources in these areas are limited available and cannot be used for other purposes simultaneously.
And what about the clothes we wear? Cotton is the raw material used for most clothing and is significantly water-intensive. According to the world average, the process to make a pair of jeans (cultivation of cotton, dyeing and production) requires about 8000 liters of water. In some parts of the world, the same pair of jeans requires as much as 12,000 liters, indicating considerable differences in effective production processes (e.g., adopting sustainable irrigation methods). It is easy to imagine the enormous impact of fast fashion.