For quite awhile now I’ve said I’m going to cut back on my coffee consumption, but I never really do. I like (ok, love) coffee a whole lot and it’s tough to cut back. Sure, cups of coffee seem pretty innocuous, don’t they? But, as with most things, there’s much more than meets the eye.
I try to get organic, fair trade coffee in the hopes that it’s really, truly a more responsible choice, but even if I do and even if it is, that’s not the end of the story. The story actually begins with realizing that there’s a heckuva lot more water involved in that cup of coffee than what was used to brew it.
That single cup of coffee actually has 37 gallons of water behind it. It’s called ‘virtual water’ and it’s how much water was needed to make the product, whatever it is, that you possess.
With this summer’s near drought and the constant re-realization that we need to conserve water, it’s a topic that deserves attention. Discover Magazine puts it this way in their article titled “Everything You Know About Water Conservation Is Wrong:” Forget short showers. Worry about the 6,340 gallons of “virtual water” in your leather bag.”
Consider how much water it takes to produce not just your food, but your paper, your clothes, and myriad other things. We waste way too much water in this country when it’s more important than ever to be smart with it and it’s a huge issue, but here are some food related ways to conserve virtual water:
Try to avoid bottled water and use refillable canteens when possible.
Eat less meat. Meat requires 5-10 times more water than vegetables, so by cutting back on meat, you’re conserving hundreds of gallons of water.
Don’t waste leftovers. Throwing food away wastes all that water that went into making that food, and besides, the less cooking the better, right?
Drink more water and less coffee, tea, soda and all those other beverages, all of which have a much higher water footprint than water from the tap.