New tool reveals a latte water needed for your morning coffee

Did you enjoy your skinny latte with extra cream this morning?

This startling fact may make you choke it back up: the contents of your cup used 710 litres of water to produce.

And on World Water Day 2013. Hang your head in shame.

Ths figures come from a new water calculator from environmental consultancy Sustain aims to make people aware of their consumption – and some of the results may surprise.

For instance, your average cheese sandwich, 500ml bottle of coke and 40g bag of crisps uses a whopping 756 litres of water.

Sustain’s Craig Jones munching his cheese sandwich – and sitting on the vast amount of water needed to produce his lunch (Pic: Sustain)

What’s key here is the ‘embedded’ or ‘virtual’ water content of these products – part of the production process that is not obvious to consumers.

“The term carbon footprint is now commonly used and widely understood, but a water footprint has, to a large extent, played something of a forgotten role as an input to the commodities we consume,” said Sustain’s Craig Jones, lead developer of the calculator.

“A water footprint is the total volume of water that is used to produce the items used or consumed by nations.

“Our calculator allows consumers to determine the water footprint of a Sunday roast dinner, or a portion of meat lasagne, and takes into account the ingredients’ country of origin.

“By doing so, the calculator will help people see where they can make changes to their diet – and weekly shop – to decrease their water footprint easily and effectively.”

The implications of a high water footprint are vast.

Average household water use in the UK is around 150 litres per person per day, but UK consumption of products from other countries means that your average person uses around 4,645 litres of water every day.

Water scarcity is an increasingly prevalent problem across the world, with the amount used to produce an item far greater than the water contained within it.

Environment Agency analysis has shown that in 2012 the UK experienced drought one in every four days and could experience a severe short-term drought every 10 years.

According to the modelling, in the next 40 years some river flows could be reduced by up to 80 per cent during the summer, putting pressure on water availability for people, businesses and farmers.

Read more on: Living | Water |