How many liters of water are in your morning cup of coffee?

The next time you turn on the faucet, fill the kettle, and make yourself a cup of coffee, consider how important water is to our lives. It would seem that we use water mainly for drinking, bathing and washing. But have you ever thought about how much water goes into producing the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the lifestyle we lead?

For example, one morning cup of coffee requires 140 liters of water! According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, this is how much it takes to grow, process and transport enough beans for one cup.

While shopping at the grocery store, we rarely think about water, but this valuable resource is a key component of most of the products that end up in our shopping carts.

How much water goes into food production?

According to global averages, this is how many liters of water are required to produce one kilogram of the following foods:

Beef – 15415

Nuts – 9063

Lamb – 8763

Pork – 5988

Chicken – 4325

Eggs – 3265

Cereal crops – 1644

Milk – 1020

Fruits – 962

Vegetables – 322

Agricultural irrigation accounts for 70% of water use worldwide. As you can see, most of the water is spent on the production of meat products, as well as on the cultivation of nuts. There is an average of 15 liters of water per kilogram of beef – and the vast majority of it is used to grow animal feed.

For comparison, growing fruits takes noticeably less water: 70 liters per apple. But when juice is made from fruits, the amount of water consumed increases – up to 190 liters per glass.

But agriculture is not the only industry heavily dependent on water. A 2017 report shows that in one year, the fashion world consumed enough water to fill 32 million Olympic-size swimming pools. And, apparently, water consumption in the industry will increase by 2030% by 50.

It can take 2720 liters of water to make a simple T-shirt, and almost 10000 liters to make one pair of jeans.

But the water used to make food and clothing is a drop in the bucket compared to industrial water use. Globally, coal-fired power plants consume as much water as 1 billion people, and 2 billion in the future if all planned power plants start operating, according to Greenpeace.

A future with less water

Because the planet’s water supply is not infinite, the amount currently used by industry, producers and consumers is not sustainable, especially with the growing population of the Earth. According to the World Resources Institute, there will be 2050 billion people on Earth by 9,8, which will dramatically increase the pressure on existing resources.

The 2019 World Economic Forum Global Risk Report ranks the water crisis as the fourth largest impact. The exploitation of existing water supplies, a growing population and the effects of climate change doom the world to a future in which water demand exceeds supply. This situation can lead to conflict and hardship as agriculture, energy, industry and households compete for water.

The scale of the global water problem is enormous, especially given that 844 million people still lack clean drinking water and 2,3 billion lack access to basic sanitation facilities such as toilets.

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