August 2, 2009

Next Target Is Your Water Footprint

London Times
September 13, 2009

Environmentally conscious consumers already fret about how to cut their carbon emissions. Now Whitehall officials plan to urge the public to reduce the amount of water they use because of worries about the West sucking up supplies from some of the world’s driest countries.

The government has commissioned research to audit everyday items from a morning cup of coffee to a bag of carrots according to the volume of water used in their production. Eventually products could be labelled with this number.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which has set up a water footprint steering group, wants to broaden public awareness of climate change to include water supplies.

Defra believes consumption could be cut if shoppers were aware of how much is used to produce common items. A takeaway latte, according to figures already gathered by officials, requires 200 litres (44 gallons) to grow the coffee beans, transport them and serve the coffee in the cup. It takes another 2.5 litres to make the plastic lid for a takeaway latte. A cotton T-shirt with a slogan on the front uses an estimated 4,000 litres.

The new research will assess items both for how much water they use and for the impact on the country where they are produced. This could mean, for example, that a product imported from a dry country would be rated worse than one from a place where water was plentiful...

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