What Is a Water Footprint?

  • March 13, 2019

It takes just over 2,000 gallons of water a day to keep the average American’s lifestyle afloat. That’s because everything we use, wear, eat, or buy takes water to make. A product’s water footprint consists of the volume of water from soils, rivers, and groundwater consumed in making it, plus the water needed to absorb the pollutants from manufacturing. So the water footprint of a cotton T-shirt consists of the water from rainfall and irrigation consumed in growing the cotton plant, plus the water needed at the shirt-making factory, plus the water needed to dilute the factory’s pollution. Applying a consistent methodology, the Water Footprint Network—a collaboration of companies, organizations, and individuals aimed at promoting smarter use of water—has developed water footprint estimates for many common products.