People use lots of water for drinking, cooking and washing but even more is used for growing our food and for making our clothing, cars or computers.

The water footprint concept measures the amount of water used to produce each of the goods and services we use. It can be measured for a single process, such as growing rice, for a product, such as a pair of jeans, for the fuel we put in our car, or for an entire multi-national company. The water footprint can also tell us how much water is being consumed by a particular country – or globally – in a specific river basin or from an aquifer.

Personal Water Footprint Assessment is used to assess whether water use is environmentally sustainable, resource efficient and equitably allocated for each person. To find out your water footprint check out this calculator here.

At this point you might as well feel bad about your consumption habits.  The idea of this exersize is not necessarily to stop consuming certain products, although that would be preferable, but to understand what your actions entail. Often there are many hidden environmental costs in the things we do that affect people and places that are on the other side of the world. That is globalization for you. Hopefully in the future we will have products that are labeled with the amount of green, blue and grey water footprint so that, as consumers, we can make more conscientious decisions.

To be environmentally sustainable, water use must not exceed the maximum sustainable limits of a freshwater resource. We use blue water scarcity to measure the environmental sustainability of the blue water footprint. When we consider the environmental sustainability of water use from the perspective of water quality, we compare the grey water footprint with the available assimilation capacity to measure the water pollution level. If the grey water footprint exceeds the assimilation capacity water quality standards are violated and the quality of the water will not meet socially agreed upon purposes.

Having a ballpark estimate is the best starting point for personal water conservation.  Hopefully this post helps you to get a better idea of your water footprint.