How much water is your daily life responsible for?
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Canada is abundant in fresh water, and as a result, many of us overconsume water. The average Canadian uses 327 litres per day in their home. That's just the water you see yourself using every day to drink, wash dishes, watering your garden, and brushing your teeth. Still, you also have to consider the unseen water.
How much water does it take to produce our food and the things we buy? It isn't always obvious. The water that's unseen and unaccounted is known as virtual water.
We need to consider both direct and virtual water when examining our individual and collective impacts.
Figuring out how much water you use every day
Also known as a water audit. I recommend checking out watercalculator.org to figure out how much water you use every day. The units are in gallons, so you might want to convert to litres (1 gallon = 3.8 litres).
The water we use directly comes from
Showers and baths
Bathroom and kitchen sinks
My direct water consumption added up to 348 litres per day (92 gallons per day). According to the results, I do dishes more than average. I also shower longer, which isn't a surprise.
Virtual water use comes from
Driving: Creating gas takes a lot of water. Every km takes ~1.75 litres of water.
Diet: Meat requires a lot of water. Think about how much water you drink every day. Not only does the animal have to drink a lot, but the energy to keep the animal alive and healthy, plus processing quickly adds up.
Energy consumption: Since watercalculator.org is American, I researched to choose the state that most closely matches Manitoba's energy generation, 97 per cent hydro. I compared a few states, based on their highest generating form of electricity (ex. natural gas and nuclear, which barely added any water per day). In the end, I decided to choose Idaho because hydro is the highest power source in Idaho, and the state's population is similar to ours in Manitoba (1.8 million to 1.4 million, respectively).
My Grand Total
Drumroll please... 1,520 Gallons/Day = 5,830 litres/day.
That's the equivalent of an Olympic-sized swimming pool every 14 months. My lifetime water consumption will fill 70 Olympic-sized pools (if I reach the life expectancy in Canada and my use stays consistent).
By identifying which of our water uses are needs and wants, we can all be better at conserving water.
Four Simple tips to reduce your water consumption
Turning off the shower when you are soaping can save thousands of litres per year
Washing your laundry and doing your dishes only when you have a full load
Knowing how to recycle where you live
Reducing your meat intake. Changing one meal a day to meatless saves ~172 gallons/ 651 litres per day