So, day 6 of No Impact Week and we are looking at water.
You can calculate your annual cubic metres of water consumption here. Mine came out at 373*, but some guesswork was involved.
I don't actually know how many kilos of fruit, veg and potatoes I eat every week, but a kilo of each sounded about right. It doesn't tell you how your result compares with the average water consumption, but as mine is mostly due to my food intake, I don't think I can do much to reduce it and it certainly doesn't seem worth making too much effort to try to reduce the 90 cubic metres that are a result of cleansing myself and the dishes, but if I can run the water for less time that would help. Running the water for 5 more minutes a day while washing up would add 22 cubic metres to my annual water consumption, while showering for 10 minutes instead of 15 would reduce it by 14 cubic metres.
Eating about 350 grams of lean meat a week has consumed 78 cubic metres of water whereas if I were to reduce it to 250g I would be responsible for the consumption of 22 cubic metres less throughout a whole year.
Drinking 4 cups of tea a day would use 51 cubic metres of water a year, but I wonder if it would be the same for rooibos (red bush) tea, which is what I drink along with water and fruit juice and occasional herbal teas, none of which are mentioned. In fact you are asked if you drink tea and coffee and these are lumped together as stimulants. There is no allowance for drinks of other kinds.
I must drink at least 102 cubic metres a year as my 4 'cups' of rooibos tea a day come in large mugs.
I just looked to find out more about how rooibos tea is grown and it seems to grow best in sandy soil and needs little water. The only drawback is that is comes all the way from South Africa, but at least it isn't South America, and I usually buy a Fairtrade brand.
We do have a dual flush loo and a low flow shower head. I was brought up to not to run the water while brushing my teeth and to use a mug for rinsing.
We don't have a dishwasher. We don't water the garden a great deal either, but watering it for an average of 30 minutes a week would use a mere 12 cubic metres a year, which seems reasonable for a crop of tasty, fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. As the water needed to grow these has already been taken into account, we are presumably using even less extra water to keep our crops alive in dry weather.
If I'm right about how much I spend on myself, including food, my consumerism is only using 8 cubic metres of water per annum, but I'm not sure if the manufacture and recycling of packaging has been taken into account.
It may only be a rough guide, so it's best to just try not to waste water as although we seem to have so much of it here in Britain, we have to remember that we need to have it cleaned and purified first and that uses a lot of resources.
Postscript, I was astounded to read Ann's Harvest Moon blog. She calculated her water usage at 1206 and says she was quite pleased with that because a study showed the average U.S. water footprint as 2,803 cubic meters. This same study (dataset1) shows the average UK per capita usage as 1245 cubic metres per annum, very close to the global average.
Am I exceptionally frugal with our use of water, or have I miscalculated? I think I must have as this means I use less water than the average Yemeni and their usage at 619 cubic metres of water a year is the lowest in the world according to the study. I obviously need to measure my water usage better.
* I've added 51 cubic metres of water to my original total of 322 on the realisation that my 4 cups of red bush tea are actually large mugs.