The thousand faces of water
Virtual water. The water that is there, but cannot be seen.
When we think about water consumption, we think of what we use for drinking, cooking or washing. Yet most of the water we consume is taken in through other “means”: food, above all. But also clothing. This type of water, defined as “virtual”, is used in the production phases of food or clothing. Everything we eat, wear or simply use commonly every day requires water, and a lot of it, before entering our homes.
A pizza margherita uses about 300 grams of flour obtained by milling soft wheat. Almost 555 litres of fresh water are needed to produce the wheat from which the dough is made. Water is also added while preparing the pizza base, and it evaporates while cooking. Then there is the water used to make the tomato sauce: a pizza uses an average of 100 grams, which corresponds to about 24 litres.
There are many more examples.
300 grams of meat require more than 4,500 litres of water to become a “steak” on our table; a 300 gram pork chop uses 1,400 litres; half a kilo of pasta uses 780 litres. And not only food: a shirt uses 2,700 litres of water, and jeans use 8,000. And so on.
Sustainability begins with awareness.
Not much thought goes to virtual water, and little is known about it. Yet it inevitably falls under our daily water calculation. It is therefore important to start a path of awareness to learn more and guide our water usage. Becoming well-informed, first of all. Thereby promoting more responsible usage, recovering and recycling what can be reused. This small effort can help us make life on our planet more sustainable.