Water footprint is a term coined in 2002 by Arjen Hoekstra, a professor of water management at University of Twente in the Netherlands. Based partly on the increasingly familiar concept of “carbon footprint” (a widely used measurement of carbon-dioxide emissions), water footprint refers to the water required to produce a good or service over all the various steps of its production chain. For example, a hamburger takes 630 gallons of water to produce, largely in growing grain for cattle feed. A single T-shirt contains 700 gallons of “virtual” or “embedded” water, representing mainly the water used in growing and processing cotton.
The water footprint of the United States is larger than any other country and more than twice the average. The super-sized American water footprint is in large part a reflection of what we eat. The United Nations reports that each of us uses between 530 and 1,300 gallons of water embedded in the production chain of the food we eat each day. If Americans are to reduce our water footprint we must “eat” less water.
Water Footprint of favorite Foods
One pound of pasta- 230 gallons
One pound of beef- 1799 gallons
One pound of pork- 576 gallons
One pound of chicken- 468 gallons
One pound of cheese- 600 gallons
One egg- 23 gallons
One apple- 18 gallons
One orange- 13 gallons
One slice of bread- 11 gallons
One bottle of beer- 65 gallons
One glass of wine- 63 gallons
One cup of coffee- 37 gallons
Source: www.nationalgeographic.org, Blue Planet Run: The Race to provide Safe Drinking Water to the World.