Opinion from global food and drink experts, Zenith Global
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ACTUAL WATER AND VIRTUAL WATER

September 19th, 2008 | Posted by Richard Hall in Energy drinks

Everything we consume and everything we make requires water. Sometimes it’s easy to tell, more often not.

A litre of water is just that. A litre of milk or orange juice contains other nutrients.

But milk and juice take a lot more water to grow the grass or produce the fruit. As well as more water to rinse the processing machinery. And even more water to build the factories. So it goes on.

It is said to take an extra ½ to 1 litre of actual water* to produce 1 litre of bottled water and another 7 to 7½ litres of embedded water or virtual water for the processing, packaging and transport – adding up to 9 litres in all.

A fascinating new study from WWF shows that the average British citizen uses an amazing 4,645 litres of virtual water per day. Some of this is in clothing. Almost two thirds is in products sourced from other countries.

Yet the amount of actual water we use in a day is 150 litres – mainly through washing and toilets. Of that, we drink just 1.1 litres from taps.

Even if we drank our full daily requirement of 2 litres a day from bottles and multiply that by 9, it’s a mere 0.4% of our virtual water use. It would probably also be the most important 0.4%.

To me, that puts the whole debate about water into perspective.

Here’s a tiny healthy amount doing massive good. But some people are intent on condemning it.

I’ve read many other intriguing articles about water footprints. Here are some of the more extraordinary comparisons**:

Leather shoes 1 pair   8,000 litres
Beef 1 serving 4oz 1,500 litres
Milk 1 glass 200ml 200 litres
Orange juice 1 glass 200ml 170 litres
Coffee 1 cup 140ml 150 litres
Egg 1 40g 135 litres
Wine 1 glass 125ml 120 litres
Beer 1 glass 250ml 75 litres
Bottled water 1 glass 200ml 2 litres

Shouldn’t we all be more virtuous with the actuality ?

* 0.81 litres for Nestlé: The Nestlé Creating Shared Value Report, March 2008
** Bottled Water Reporter, February/March 2008

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