How much water does your life cost?

Do you know how much water it actually takes to support your lifestyle?

It might be easy enough to work out based on your direct water use (for drinking, washing, cooking, gardening), but what about all that invisible water that it takes to make your coffee beans or t-shirt?

If you had to guess which of the following items requires the most water to produce it, what would your answer be?

  1. cotton t-shirt
  2. microchip
  3. cup of coffee
  4. hamburger


(The answer may be surprising……no.4 hamburgers! It takes approximately 2,400 litres of water to make a hamburger, 2,000 litres to make a cotton t-shirt, 140 litres to make a cup of coffee and 32 litres of water to make a microchip. The water used in making a hamburger includes water to grow the food the cow eats, water that the cow drinks, water for processing the meat and also water for cleaning the cow.)

The snazzy European Commission sponsored interactive website Imagine All The Water brings together a mind-boggling array of estimates about the overall amount of water required to create everyday consumer products. This includes:

  • Pizza – 1,200 L
  • Jeans – 9,980 L
  • Shoes – 8,500 L
  • Beer – 170 L per pint
  • Cheese – 150 L
  • Apple – 80 L
  • Loaf of Bread – 50 L
  • Paper – 10 L per sheet

This ABC quiz also allows you to estimate how much water your life costs, and while calculating virtual water figures is definitely a tricky thing and different researchers calculate their figures in different ways, it is a nifty way to be aware of what’s going into all the things you’re buying and using! And might even convince you to change your habits…..