Why is wasting water such an issue?
Water is one of the earth’s most valuable resources and one we often take for granted here in the UK.
When we have wet weather it’s often difficult to understand why we need to worry about it at all! However, our climate has always relied on steady, regular amounts of rain – not such large amounts falling all at once followed by no rain at all. Heavy rain, instead of seeping into the ground, runs straight into rivers and eventually into the sea without topping up our water table. It also causes flash-flooding and, during the summer months, evaporates more quickly.
It’s not just the water we need here in the UK that’s important –water is needed to produce the things we use and eat that are made abroad too, often where there’s less regular rainfall than here in the UK. We often just think of the water we use to drink, shower, to have a bath, to wash up, or to clean the car but every product we use every day has used water in its production, transport and packaging before it reaches you – virtual water if you like.
Water and food
Water is an essential part of our daily lives in many more ways than we realise – in fact Love Food Hate Waste has found in new research that it’s a surprise to most of us, how much water is used in producing the food we eat every day. Milk, burgers, pizzas, chicken - have all used water in their production.
Lots of the crops we eat get their water from rainwater but in some areas, and at certain times of the year, there isn’t enough, so the water is topped up with water from rivers, reservoirs and from deep underground. Crops are also grown to feed the animals we eat, which means more water is used in the production of meat and dairy products than foods like vegetables and wheat.
Did you know?
- It takes 12 litres of water to produce just one tomato!
- 650 litres of water are needed to produce one chicken breast! That's 54 buckets!
- A portion of rice uses 125 litres of water to be produced for us to eat!
- A loaf of bread takes a whopping 1,200 litres to be produced or 100 buckets.
- On average the amount of water needed to produce food is about 1000 times the weight of the food itself!
- Each year, food that is produced but not eaten guzzles up a volume of water equivalent to the annual flow of Russia's Volga River or three times the volume of Lake Geneva.
Increasing human demand for water coupled with the effects of climate change mean that the future of our water supply is not secure. Though we might see ourselves living in a lush and rainy country, we are not immune from water scarcity problems. The UK has already witnessed some of its worst droughts ever and in the future we, too, could run out of water. And some countries we rely on for the products we use are already water stretched.