Eat Drink Better water footprint

Published on April 15th, 2012 | by Becky Striepe

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What’s Your Virtual Water Footprint?

We’ve talked about how our food choices affect our water footprint around here before, but how much water does it take to produce what we eat and drink?

virtual water

You’re probably pretty familiar with ways to cut back your direct water use, so what about the “virtual water” that we consume? Of course, you know to drink your eight glasses (or more!) a day, but virtual water refers to the indirect uses of water in our day to day, including the water involved in something like raising a cow for your dinner plate or producing the apple you pack with your lunch. When you take all of that water–including the water to produce our food–into account, those eight glasses balloons up to almost 33,000 glasses! If you want to find your virtual water footprint, check out the extended water footprint calculator here.

This infographic from visual.ly takes a look at our direct and virtual water footprints in our day-to-day and in some common food products. You can click to view a full-sized version.

virtual water

What’s really interesting to me about this is how much less water it takes to produce plant-based food. It makes sense, right? To raise a cow, you have to feed it plants, so it’s far less efficient from a water standpoint. What do you guys do to reduce your virtual water footprint?

{Image Credit: Water Footprint image via Shutterstock}





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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • inez

    No place did it ask if watering was recycled grey water… both laundry and sinks go to greywater tanks. rainwater is collected, goes through fish pond, then to veg garden. NOR does your ‘industrial’ component ask if home is new or 2nd hand, or renovated with salvaged products. For our build/reno, we have sourced over 3/4 from salvage. ( mostly because it was 100 yrs old and I wanted stuff from demolished old houses.) This reno is also our work area, so we only use the ute once a week.

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