It is essential, nowadays, to know what is a water footprint, in order to develop an aware consumption attitude.

The hidden usage of water has recently become an emerging topic and a matter to be aware of, in particular if we look at the statistics that it brings together. Every day, the amount we use for nutrition, personal hygiene and domestic care sums up to 245 litres per capita in Italy alone. This, though, is still nothing in comparison with the water used for other processes.

Millions of hidden litres constitute our hidden water footprint, a marker for the environmental impact our lifestyle choices have, especially on the hydrogeological balance.

WATER FOOTPRINT AND PRODUCTION

The Water footprint is defined by calculating the amount used during the production cycle of a good, directly and not. For instance, in order to produce denim, we should not only consider how much water was used during processing or colouring, but also the hydric consumption for producing cotton – a raw material requiring a footprint of 11.000 litres per kilogram.

Therefore, more than 8.000 litres of water are needed in order to get a pair of denim trousers, while as much as 1.500 litres go for a t-shirt. Leather bags and shoes require 16.000 litres per kilogram. Just for its production cycle, a single cup of coffee has a footprint of 140 litres of fresh water, while a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce goes for 230 litres, when organic. A margherita pizza requires 1.259 water litres, 50% of it covering the mozzarella production cycle, 44% pasta production and 6% tomato sauce.

Paper has a very strong footprint as well, first while the trees grow, then with its producing cycle: every kilogram of paper requires around 450-600 water litres.

Water footprint varies along with the kind of good that is produced, as well as where and when the good was created.

Seasonal Peaches produced in Italy during Summer have a footprint of 450 litres per kilogram, while the same kind of fruit in China requires  1.120 litres (data: Water Footprint Network). For this and other sustainable reasons, it is fundamental to prefer farm-to-table or national products over imported goods.

WATER CONSUMPTION

The water footprint for luxury clothing doesn’t differ from the one of cheaper products: the usage for production, packaging and transportation is the same.

If we consider, again, a pair of denim trousers, consumption is even higher than cheap fabrics, because of the place of production. Luxury clothing is often produced in countries where, unlike Italy, costs are lower and regulations are few, so hydric usage for transportation and mass production is likely to be high, in comparison with an italian-produced good.

Such data make are especially thought-provoking if we consider all of those 2.7 billion people who suffer from water shortage.

It is possible and, from our perspective, compulsory to engage in water-saving behaviours and become aware of our consumption habits.