Cover image for Your water footprint : the shocking facts about how much water we use to make everyday products
Title:
Your water footprint : the shocking facts about how much water we use to make everyday products
Author:
Leahy, Stephen, 1953- , author.
Publication Information:
Buffalo, New York : Firefly Books, 2014.
Physical Description:
143 pages : color illustrations, color maps ; 28 cm
Summary:
The average American lifestyle is kept afloat by about 2,000 gallons of H2O a day. The numbers are shocking. Your Water Footprint reveals the true cost of our lifestyle. A "water footprint" is the amount of fresh water used to produce the goods and services we consume, including growing, harvesting, packaging, and shipping. From the foods we eat to the clothes we wear to the books we read and the music we listen to, all of it costs more than what we pay at the check-out. The 125 footprint facts in this book show the true cost of our lifestyle and what it is doing to Earth, including draining it dry. The "Virtual Water Concept" shows the amount of water used in human activities. Presented in clever, understandable graphics, Your Water Footprint raises readers' awareness of how much water is used to make the things we use, consume and grow. What we put on our dinner table has a very high cost. Nearly 95 percent of our water footprint is hidden in the food we eat: One pound of lettuce costs 15 gallons of freshwater; mango 190 gallons; avocado 220 gallons; tofu 244 gallons; rice 403 gallons; olives 522 gallons; pork 1,630 gallons; butter 2,044 gallons; chocolate 2,847 gallons; and beef 2,500 to 5,000 gallons. A slice of bread costs 10 gallons but if you eat it with a slice of cheese, it takes another 13 gallons. One glass of beer takes 20 gallons of water, and just one standard cup of tea costs 120 same-sized cups of water. A cotton t-shirt takes almost as much water as beef, a pair of jeans even more. In fact, all aspects of our daily lives require water in some way, shape or form. The saying that "nothing is free" applies more to water than anything else we consume, considering just three percent of the world's water is drinkable and that we are using more of it than ever before. Factor in climate change, population growth and pollution and we have an unsustainable situation. Many experts predict dire water shortages if we continue on our current path. Your Water Footprint is riveting. Consumers of all ages will be stunned by what it reveals. It is an excellent reference and an exciting way to introduce the resource-consumption equation to students. - Publisher.
Language:
English
Contents:
Introduction -- The big picture -- At home -- Food -- Manufacturing and farming -- Conclusion -- Water-saving tips.
Subject Term:
ISBN:
9781770854994

9781770852952
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

The average American lifestyle is kept afloat by about 2,000 gallons of H2O a day.

The numbers are shocking.

Your Water Footprint reveals the true cost of our lifestyle. A "water footprint" is the amount of fresh water used to produce the goods and services we consume, including growing, harvesting, packaging, and shipping. From the foods we eat to the clothes we wear to the books we read and the music we listen to, all of it costs more than what we pay at the check-out. The 125 footprint facts in this book show the true cost of our lifestyle and what it is doing to Earth, including draining it dry.

The "Virtual Water Concept" shows the amount of water used in human activities. Presented in clever, understandable graphics, Your Water Footprint raises readers' awareness of how much water is used to make the things we use, consume and grow.

What we put on our dinner table has a very high cost. Nearly 95 percent of our water footprint is hidden in the food we eat:

One pound of lettuce costs 15 gallons of freshwater; mango 190 gallons; avocado 220 gallons; tofu 244 gallons; rice 403 gallons; olives 522 gallons; pork 1,630 gallons; butter 2,044 gallons; chocolate 2,847 gallons; and beef 2,500 to 5,000 gallons. A slice of bread costs 10 gallons but if you eat it with a slice of cheese, it takes another 13 gallons. One glass of beer takes 20 gallons of water, and just one standard cup of tea costs 120 same-sized cups of water.

A cotton t-shirt takes almost as much water as beef, a pair of jeans even more. In fact, all aspects of our daily lives require water in some way, shape or form. The saying that "nothing is free" applies more to water than anything else we consume, considering just three percent of the world's water is drinkable and that we are using more of it than ever before. Factor in climate change, population growth and pollution and we have an unsustainable situation. Many experts predict dire water shortages if we continue on our current path.

Your Water Footprint is riveting. Consumers of all ages will be stunned by what it reveals. It is an excellent reference and an exciting way to introduce the resource-consumption equation to students.


Author Notes

Stephen Leahy is an environmental journalist based in Ontario, Canada. His work has appeared in National Geographic , The Guardian (UK), Sunday Times and New Scientist . He is a senior science and environment correspondent at Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS), the world's largest not-for-profit news agency. He won the 2012 Prince Albert/United Nations Global Prize for Climate Change.


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* We know about our carbon footprint. Now environmental journalist Leahy alerts us to an even more daunting reality: our water footprint. There are no alternatives to water, and the supply of freshwater is finite. Obviously, we drink and use water in our daily routines, but we also consume massive quantities in agriculture and manufacturing, more than can be replaced. Leahy takes a uniquely clear and direct approach to revealing the magnitude of our hidden water profligacy by matching his exceptionally lucid narration with arresting, full-page infographics. We see that a pair of jeans, from cotton field to factory to consumer, requires 2,000 gallons of water. One measly liter of ­soybean-based biodiesel fuel requires 11,397 liters, or 3,010 gallons, of water. Page after page of such eye-opening calculations recalibrates our understanding of the invisible role water plays in every aspect of our lives, jarring disclosures that can help us make choices, however modest. For example, the production of one cup of tea requires 9 gallons of water; one cup of coffee, 37 gallons; two pounds of tomatoes, 56.5 gallons; two pounds of beef, 4,068 gallons. As irresistible as it is alarming, Leahy's water footprint primer is a catalyst for conservation of our most precious endangered resource.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Environmental journalist Leahy delivers a brilliant and shocking exposé on precisely how much water we use, not just for personal hygiene but to create the products we wear and consume. Who knew, for example, that it takes 7,600 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans, 56.6 gallons to produce one kg of tomatoes and 449 gallons to make a single chocolate bar? Leahy's text is illustrated with graphics depicting the quantity of water required to produce each item discussed, from sugar beets to leather shoes to iPhones to meat consumption. A meat-based diet, he says, consumes the equivalent of 15 large bathtubs of water daily. A vegetarian diet by contrast consumes just eight. Filled with color pictures, statistics writ large and easily comprehensible comparisons, Leahy warns that the future, in terms of our water usage, looks dire. "The success and prosperity of many parts of the world are directly linked to overdrawing of their water resources," he writes. "This can't continue." He concludes with water-saving tips in the bathroom, kitchen, laundry and our general lifestyle, and iterates not to "worry if the savings are minimal. Every drop counts." (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Anyone living on the West Coast and desert regions of the United States is familiar with the concept of water scarcity. As global warming, food and commodity production, and population increases continue to affect the planet and its resources, water scarcity will continue to be an important and critical issue. Environmental journalist Leahy has created a guide for understanding just how much water is used in our daily activities and in the manufacturing of the products we consume, while putting into context current facts about the status of water availability. Readers will find the information, which is presented in an infographiclike style, easy to understand and to act upon. While the introduction and conclusion expertly unpack the complex issue of water use, the images and large text in the body of the book seem to be geared toward younger readers. However, this book is unique in its handling of a complex topic and is unlike other texts on the subject. Readers interested in a more traditional study on water might choose David Sedlak's Water 4.0. VERDICT The content is timely, important, and fascinating, though the infographic-style depiction of water use might not appeal to some adult readers.-Jaime Corris Hammond, Naugatuck Valley Community Coll. Lib., Waterbury, CT (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-With exceptionally clear and informative prose and an abundance of well-designed infographics, this book presents the shocking facts about our water usage. Quite simply, we are using too much water in our everyday lives and this consumption cannot be sustained. Consider, as Leahy points out, that it takes 634 gallons of water to produce a single cheeseburger or 660 gallons of water to produce one cotton shirt. This title provides an impressive amount of data, making the issue of water use concrete and inescapable. Leahy helps readers understand the nature of the problem by highlighting what is important to know about our global, national, and local water consumption and why; explaining the significance of concepts such as water footprint (or the amount of water it takes to produce the goods and services consumed by an individual or community); emphasizing noteworthy ideas; and providing suggestions for making wise choices. To assist readers in becoming informed decision-makers, the text and infographics work together to describe the scope of the problem by providing information about water consumption at home, in our foods, and in farming and manufacturing. The urgency of the situation is emphasized, but so, too, are the steps readers can take to address the crisis. This is an exemplary book for focusing on Common Core standards that emphasize the integration of text and graphics in both reading and writing. Pair this book with Paul Fleischman's Eyes Wide Open (Candlewick, 2014) to enlighten readers further about urgent water and ecology issues.-Myra Zarnowski, City University of New York (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Excerpt from the Introduction Do you know you're wearing water? It takes more than 7,600 liters (2,000 gallons) of water to make a single pair of jeans and another 2,460 liters (650 gallons) to make a T-shirt. And you're eating water too. That morning cup of coffee required 140 liters (37 gallons) of water before it found its way to your table--water that was used to grow, process and ship the coffee beans. If you include toast, two eggs and some milk in your coffee, the water footprint of your breakfast totals about 700 liters (185 gallons). Furniture, houses, cars, roads, buildings--practically everything we make uses water in the manufacturing process. When we spend money on food, clothes, cellphones or even electricity, we are buying water. A lot of water. Generating electricity from coal, oil, gas, and nuclear or hydro power involves the world's second biggest use of water after food production. Making paper is another very water-intensive process. This book required about 980 liters (260 gallons) of water to produce, or more than your morning breakfast. We are surrounded by a hidden world of water. This unseen water is called "virtual" or "embodied" water. Even though we don't see the water it took to make a T-shirt, couch or TV, that water is just as real as the water we drink or shower with. Each of us uses far more virtual water than the "regular" water we can see, feel and taste. According to government statistics, the average American's direct water use (the "regular" water) is around 378 liters (100 gallons) every day for showers, toilet use, washing, cooking and drinking. The virtual water in the things we eat, wear and use during a day averages 7,500 liters (1,980 gallons). That means the average American's "water footprint"--the total amount of direct plus virtual freshwater use--is about 8,000 liters (2,115 gallons) per day. Since 1 liter weighs 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds), that's the weight of four cars you have to haul if you get all that water from a well. Due to our excessive consumption habits, a North American's daily water footprint (direct plus virtual water) is more than twice the size of the global average. Think of it as running shoes placed side by side: the global shoe is a size 8, while the North American's is a size 18. By contrast, the Chinese or Indian water footprint is a tiny size 6. The Water Footprint of a Bottle of Cola To get a better understanding of virtual water and the water footprint concept, let's take a look at one popular product: a bottle of cola. Cola is almost entirely water, so a half-liter (17-ounce) bottle effectively contains 500 milliliters of water. That's the direct water input. But cola is not just water in a bottle. It contains sugar, carbon dioxide and syrup for flavoring. Sugar can be made from sugar beets, sugar cane or corn. All those crops need a lot of water to grow and to process into sugar, and the amount of water they need varies depending on where they are grown. If the sugar is made from corn grown in the United States, about 30 liters (7.9 gallons) of water was needed to grow and process the corn to make the sugar for our bottle of cola. The syrup flavoring contains small amounts of vanilla extract and caffeine from coffee beans. Vanilla and coffee require shockingly large amounts of water to grow and process. It takes about 80 liters (21 gallons) to grow and process the vanilla and 53 liters (14 gallons) to grow and process the coffee required to make just one bottle of cola. The plastic cola bottle is made from oil. Water is crucial for the process of getting oil out of the ground and turning it into chemicals and plastics. Roughly 5 liters (1.3 gallons) of water is needed to make one half-liter (17-ounce) bottle. Then additional water is needed for packaging, shipping and so on, although these amounts are relatively small. Add all this together and the total water footprint of a bottle of cola is 175 liters (46 gallons). In other words, drinking a bottle of cola is like consuming 350 bottles of water. Stack them one on top of the other and they'd create a skinny water tower as tall as a 25-story building. The word consume is used because the water footprints in this book represent amounts of water used that are not returned to an accessible location for reuse. Often water can be reused or cleaned, but the water footprint numbers here represent the net amount consumed. In other words, a water footprint is the total amount of water used, minus the clean water returned to a suitable source. There are different ways to calculate a water footprint, so there may be differences in the numbers of liters consumed for various things. What's important is knowing that we depend on surprisingly large amounts of water in all facets of our daily lives. Hardly anyone, including the business community and governments, is truly aware of how much water is needed to grow our food or manufacture consumer products. Yet water scarcity is already a reality in much of the world. About 1.2 billion people live in areas with chronic water scarcity, while another 2 billion are affected by shortages every year. And water scarcity is increasingly affecting people in the United States and Canada. By 2025, three in five people may be living with water shortages. Planet Earth should really be known as Planet Water, since 70 percent of its surface is covered by water. About 97 percent of this is saltwater in the world's oceans. Of the 3 percent that is the planet's freshwater, 68.7 percent is encased in pack ice and glaciers, particularly in Antarctica and Greenland. Another 30 percent of our freshwater is in groundwater, and almost 1 percent in high-latitude permafrost. Available freshwater is spread very unevenly across the planet. Canada has 9 percent of the world's freshwater, but most of that flows into the Arctic Ocean. Even with this abundance of water, 25 percent of Canadian municipalities have experienced water shortages. Many countries, including those in the Middle East, northern Africa, southern Europe and large parts of Asia, have relatively little water. Lakes account for just 0.26 percent of global freshwater, while all Earth's mighty rivers amount to only a tiny 0.006 percent. Together rivers and lakes represent only 1/375th of all the freshwater on the planet. That's like a parking lot with 374 red cars and a single, lonely blue one representing all the world's rivers and lakes. A water molecule--H2O--is made up of three atoms: two hydrogen and one oxygen. That simple configuration has near magical properties. You can freeze it, melt it, heat it and evaporate it. Almost anything can be dissolved in water. We often forget that Earth is literally a closed system, like a vessel in outer space. The total amount of water we have now is the same as it was a billion years ago. Water cannot be manufactured; it can only be moved around. We're very good at moving water around by using pipelines and canals. We're not so good at acknowledging that moving water around always means that some other place will then have less water. Water is in constant motion. It evaporates from seas and continents, rains down from the clouds and flows from land to ocean through runoff. This is called the hydrological or water cycle. When rain falls, some of it evaporates and returns to the atmosphere; some is absorbed by soil and then taken up by plants. With enough rain, water runs off into a stream or river. Eventually all river water ends up in the world's oceans. For a river basin or watershed to be sustainable, the amount of water we use should be no more than 20 percent of the precipitation that falls within it. Why not more? First, some of it evaporates. The warmer the temperatures and the drier the air, the more water evaporates. The mighty Great Lakes, containing about 20 percent of the world's surface freshwater, have experienced falling water levels in the past decade, mostly because of increased evaporation caused by warmer winter temperatures and Excerpted from Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts about How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products by Stephen Leahy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.