Food, Lifestyle

Watch your Water Foodprint

After trying to drum up some more ideas of how to save water in your home, I started thinking about all the things that aren’t visible to the naked eye. It’s simple enough to turn off the tap when you are not using it, but the real water waste happens behind the scenes out of our homes.
That is not to say it is beyond our control. We can always make a choice to use and consume wisely. But it is time to start thinking a little further.

What is our foodprint?

Each year, 60% of our water in South Africa gets used for agriculture. And a lot of that is dedicated to meat. Each year we eat around 2.8 million pigs, 2.9 million cows, 6.8 million sheep, and over 1 billion chickens (Brett Thompson). This is where a lot of our water is disappearing to.
Water usage in South Africa. Credit: WWF.
Apart from using the water to sustain these animals, the water also gets used in maize production to feed these animals. Almost half of the country’s maize gets used to keep these animals alive. Hence the water footprint of animal farming is significant.


Did you know: it uses 7000 litres of water to produce 0.5kg of beef, and about a third of that (1965 litres) to produce the same amount of chicken.
Although it is important to turn off our taps, shower over buckets and avoid taking that bath, we need to see where else we can make small lifestyle adjustments.


Be mindful of what you eat. Opt for ‘Meat-free Mondays’ and opt for chicken over beef. By reducing your meat intake, you will ultimately reduce the amount of water required for agriculture, freeing up more water for people to drink and survive.


Water footprint of the agricultural industry

Last year we were plunged into a drought instigated by the atmospheric phenomenon named El Nino. As part of my senior research project at the University of Cape Town, I co-created The Aqua Project with a fellow student. This project investigated the consequences of the drought throughout different industries in the country, including agriculture, economy and the people.


Here is a graphic with hidden water footprints. Take a look and use it to choose your food wisely.
Credit: Save the Water

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