How To Calculate Your Water Footprint

Much of the last 15 years has seen people doing all they can to reduce their carbon footprint. Although there is still a long way to go on this front, it appears people finally ‘have it’ and are being more mindful than ever before in terms of leaving the light or other appliances switched on, and are taking more care over the energy use in general.

Of course, a person’s carbon footprint also extends to the clothes they wear and the foods they eat, among a variety of other things, and people have made changes to their lifestyle in this respect, too.

The next big thing on the environmental agenda is water footprint. Much like the carbon footprint, understanding your water footprint and making efforts to reduce it is about much more than just the water you use.

Here is what you need to do to calculate your water footprint.

Direct Use

Although your water footprint encompasses many areas, like with carbon, it is the actions you can take directly that will have the biggest impact. Therefore, the first thing to do is calculate how much water you roughly use on a daily basis.

To do this accurately, you’ll need to know how much water flow your shower head allows in one minute, and also time yourself in the shower. Things like washing your hands and shaving can be done as estimates, but if you leave the taps running, you’re probably looking at a number of litres.

The least glamorous thing to do is calculate how much water a flush of your toilet uses and then work out the average number of times you flush every day.

If you’re already getting concerned, it might be time to shop for shower heads or buy a cistern controller for your toilet.

What You Eat

You’re probably not too mindful of water when it comes to eating, but the water that goes into producing your favourite foods dwarfs what you use directly in the home. Think about what your average day looks like in terms of food, and then find a food water footprint guide to help you calculate how much water use you’re responsible for.

Count everything, including snacks and cups of tea or coffee – these use a lot more than just a cupful!


If you’ve been doing work to lower your carbon footprint then the chances are that you’ve done the same with water without thinking about it. Now it is time to consider your energy use in respect of water rather than carbon. Every time you use energy or travel, water is needed somewhere in the process.

Do you take unnecessary journeys, be it via air or the road? How much electricity do you use on a daily basis?

There are no hard and fast calculations for these areas, but it is something to be mindful of.

Your Wardrobe

Your clothes are a huge part of your water footprint, from the growing of cotton needed for new items to the transportation of them around the world. Try to calculate how much you spend on new clothes on an annual basis, and then work out how much water you’d need to sustain the cotton growth, or the sheep where wool comes from, for example.

Anything you spend in charity shops doesn’t count, as in effect it is recycled clothing with zero water footprint.

Adding Everything Up

All of the data you’ve calculated so far can now be rolled up to calculate your water footprint. How much water are you using on a daily basis? Are you shocked by the level of water you’re responsible for outside of what you use directly?

Thankfully, there are actions you can take to reduce your water footprint now; if we don’t all do this, then water will become even thinner on the ground than it is t

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Michael is passionate about the environment and works on a daily basis to do all he can to reduce his water footprint, while also taking the opportunity to share his initiatives with others.

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