Conservation is an important piece of preserving our precious water resources. Before we learn how much we need to conserve, it is helpful to know how much we consume. How can we determine the quantity of water that is connected to produce or a product? The answer is “virtual water”.

In 1993, Professor John Anthony Allan of King’s College, London, helped improve the way we think about water by calculating the amount of water that goes into the prodcution of a product from beginning to end. In fact, he was named the 2008 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for his research in virtual water.

Virtual water is an effective education tool and a fun way to look at water consumption. I was surprised to find out that a morning cup of coffee has a virtual water footprint of 37 gallons and a pair of leather shoes, 4,400 gallons.  To learn more, visit www.waterfootprint.org

Stacey Armstrong