20th
Apr
2015

Posted in Kafevend Blog

It can be hard to get our heads around big numbers and concepts, but there are instances where the effort is not only worthwhile, but rather vital. One of those instances concerns the types and how much of each type of water we have access to on Earth. At first glance, the idea that we are facing water shortage issues would seem preposterous. Running out? What about all of that big blue wobbly stuff we see when we go to the beach? You probably know however that a mouthful of sea water isn't that tasty, and this is where understanding the different types of water we have is important.

Of all the water on the planet- and there is a lot of it- about 96.5% of it is found in the oceans and seas. Roughly another one percent is saline (salty) groundwater or vapour. This leaves just 2.5% as freshwater which we can actually use, but even then half of that is tied up in glaciers, snow and the ice caps. What all this means is that we have a relatively small amount of water to work with, and as the human population continues to boom, we will have even more problems- let us not forget that there are already many people without access to adequate water supplies.

Something that can be hard to understand is just how much water goes into the food you eat as well as some of the drinks you enjoy. Take beef for instance- after using water to grow crops to feed cows, the water that they drink, and the water used in processing them into meat, a kilo of beef has used a staggering 15,400 litres of water. Coffee drinkers amongst you may well be surprised to learn that a kilo of coffee requires even more- 18,900 litres of water. It is the hidden use of water like this that makes up for the vast amount of water used.

Thankfully, there are things that you can do to reduce the amount of water you use alongside what you may already be doing: swap out a day you have meat for vegetables instead- why feed them to the cows when they're perfectly enjoyable themselves? When you do buy meat, look out for grass fed meat. Another easy one concerns waste, and also ties in to a wider global problem. In the West, we throw out an awful lot of food, so try to buy what you need - imagine throwing away the water used to produce it, and you'll realise how bad it is. Of course, it's not just us that need to change our habits. Industry needs to step up its game too. Along with the amount of waste we generate, places like supermarkets generate a lot of their own with sell by dates and strict rules on the appearance of items like fruit and vegetables.

Hopefully this blog will have helped you to realise water shouldn't be taken for granted, and just how much of it we actually use. Perhaps coffee drinkers will take to having one less cup a day as well!

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