Easy Ways You Can Reduce Your Water Footprint, According To An Expert


The water we use every day doesn’t just come out of our faucets or sprinklers. It’s also integral to our food systems. Because some foods are more water-intensive than others, “your diet can greatly affect your water footprint,” explains Ric Miles. In general, plant-based foods require far less water than animal-based foods. Research conducted by UC Davis found that a single pound of beef uses anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000 gallons of water, mostly used in the growing of grain and grass fed to the animals (via UCLA). Likewise, a gallon of cow’s milk uses nearly 2000 gallons of water. Compare that to a pound of tofu, which only requires around 300 gallons of water — about the same amount of water used to grow a pound of unprocessed oats.

But lest you think all plant-based foods are created equal, consider the case of nuts. Miles points out that “it takes about the same amount of water to grow a pound of almonds” as it does a pound of beef. Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are some of the most water-intensive crops in farming, with shelled almonds needing about 80 gallons of water per ounce produced, while pistachios require far less, though still a considerable 19 gallons per ounce (per the National Peanut Board). Still, there’s a strong water conservation argument for cutting out or at least reducing animal products in your diet. “There are a lot of actions consumers can take to reduce their water footprint,” notes Miles, and examining what you eat is part of that process.

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