Thinking about calculating my water footprint took me immediately to the internet where there are numerous sites in which you can enter some data about your lifestyle like how many miles you drive in a day or how cool you keep your home during the summer. After putting your entire life into one of these simple calculators, they spit out a number for you to interpret. In my case, the site I used to calculate my current water footprint states that I personally use 1,059.35 gallons per day. On the larger scale, I put in data regarding where I lived, in the dorms, and also I figured in my two roommates and their water behaviors. The three of us as a “household” use about 4,237 gallons per day. Wow, what a number. It was almost embarrassing for me to reach that end result on the calculator because I know how unsustainable it really is.
I think that every person should take the time to calculate their water footprint because knowing the amount of water I consume per day and also the amount my whole household consumes has led me to start practicing little behaviors I know can bring that number down like taking shorter showers and turning off the water when I brush my teeth. And this is before I even analyze the full situation for what it is worth and put into effect the real large-scale sustainability measure like considering the use of a greywater harvesting system. Now, here at school that would be extremely difficult to implement because I love in dorms owned by the school, but when I own my own home it is definitely the infrastructure I am aiming for to save water.
Something to take into consideration is the number of calculators there are available on the internet to use. Each one is slightly different than the others and will produce different results for the same person. They might ask different questions and so you would enter different data, producing a result that seems way off compared to your first, but it is actually just another way of looking at it. Do not assume that every calculator is the same and should therefore give you universal results. The amount of water you consume will change, and how the calculator interprets your water use will change. The only important thing is how you personally interpret the results and change your behaviors according to them.
I believe the biggest component of my water footprint was water used for food production. Up until a few days ago I was eating meat, which requires copious amounts of water just for the process of raising the animals to the very end where they are packed and sent off to grocery store shelves. Also, any fruits and vegetables I eat account for a lot of water consumption. I think it is safe to say that a lot of people have food production as one of their biggest components on the water footprint. From this experience I have decided to revert back to being vegetarian to cut down on my water consumption from animal raising. I also want to encourage others around me who are concerned about the impact of their water footprint to buy food locally and maybe even cut meat out of their diet one day a week. They would be shocked by the results and how much water they could save with these few simple practices.