#Water Print: A #thirsty world out there

As summer heats up, water becomes important part of our life. How much water do you drink every day? Do you believe in the 8 –glasses a day myth? Or do you follow the body-weight calculations? Or just drink as much as you need? Check out the links to know more about the choices you are making.

Amidst the calculations, I stop and ponder- does everyone get water to drink?

World-over, about 780 million people are living without access to water. There is drought in California and South Africa.   Lack of water is affecting the creatures too, as crocodiles are dying because the rivers and the natural sources of water are drying up.

This is puzzling. Nearly half of the rivers are transboundary and flow between nations across political boundaries. People in Asia or Africa consume less than 1.5 cubic meter of water per day. Yet, why are we facing such a severe water crisis around the globe?

One primary reason, which I am talking about in today’s blog, is about how much our habits has changed and what it is doing so, how it has affected the availability of water. At one time, we could eat what was produced on our farm or nearby forest to eat and had few needs in terms of clothes etc. Things changed when food industry was introduced. Food became easily available, conveniently packed, yet, the cost of it has been particularly high.


A group of Dutch researchers looked closely at the water usage for the foods we buy. You will need an average of 15,415 liters (4072 gallons) of water for producing one kilogram (about 2 pounds) of beef.  One liter of cow’s milk requires, on an average the use of 1050 liters (277 gallons) of water. And the chocolate you love also requires lot of water. Producing one kilogram of chocolate requires about 17,000 liters (4490 gallons) of water.

The hamburger requires more than 2271 liters (600 gallons) of water to produce.

When we think of conserving water, we often think of the difference we can make as an individual. We think of shorter showers, efficiently using dishwasher and washing clothes.

We forget that buying processed foods adds to the water consumption and environmental performance.

The materials that are used to make the processed foods require water to not only grow the raw materials but also to produce the food items. We can choose to make a huge impact by two actions: stop eating meat and to cut back on purchases of processed food.

As a consumer, you can choose to control the kinds of food you buy. By choosing local, vegetarian and vegan food, we are reducing the environmental impact. Every time we go to shop and choose products we can improve our environmental performance.

Together, we can make a difference to the water availability. Our simple choices can be make a difference to save the miraculous liquid that gives us the gift of life. Let us do it!


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Chitra Raman

    It’s a truly worrying trend Rani. Particularly in India, where the groundwater is being depleted at an alarming rate due to unsustainable consumption, lack of rainwater harvesting, and idiotic construction activity run amok.

    1. Rani Iyer

      I am seeing this alarming trend all over Asia. No doubt we can do so much more to conserve the resources, but I am concerned about us adopting unmindful consumption patterns of the west. Do we really need all those things? Probably not. In my opinion, we can be more friendly to the Earth and a degree less of our stylishness. Thank you!

  2. Beloo Mehra

    The statistics for water consumption for producing certain foods are alarming indeed! And I wonder why in a society like ours we still continue to have unnecessary debates (all created by the ill-willed media and other stakeholders) over beef ban vs vegetarianism etc. Some hollywood celebrities are now openly speaking up against environmentally irresponsible food choices but will our pseudo-liberals bother to develop a bit of serious thought??? I don’t have much hopes there.

    1. Rani Iyer

      Thank you, Beloo. I must mention this incident and how it affected us. When I joined my Masters degree in Kengari at Bangalore University, we had a pretty decent (although sewage was present) tributary of a river running through the campus. The following year, a company which makes a sugar bottled drink that is endorsed by several Bollywood celebrities opened its bottling plant. In 9 months, the stench from the river was unbearable and the foaming was terrible. Yet, no university professor would go to investigate the source! We need to save our water. May be we should have our own rainwater catchments and try to maximize other sources. One day we will wake up and save the water, but I hope it is not the last drop. Long way to go there. Thanks for reading!

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