Everyday Products Carry a Hidden Global Cost

A water footprint is the total volume of fresh water used to produce a certain good. Many people live in dry regions that cannot support the production of goods requiring a lot of water, so they effectively consume water in the form of imported goods. The water footprint of a cup of coffee is 140 L (L = liter, 1 liter = 1.06 quarts), an apple is 70 L, a cotton shirt is 2,700 L, one kg of beef is 15,500 L, etc. The amount of fresh water that a person needs daily for drinking, cooking, and cleaning is between 20 and 50 L, according to the United Nations. More than one in six people worldwide, or 1.1 billion, do not have access to even that amount of fresh water. Check out the website www.waterfootprint.org for more information.