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Water as a valuable resource

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In everyday use, water is a matter of course. Whether it’s for drinking, cooking or washing, you can’t do without it. It is therefore hardly surprising that a person living in Germany uses an average of 130 liters of water per day. When turning on the tap, one rarely asks oneself where it comes from and how long it will be available in these seemingly infinite quantities.

In this article, you can find out how valuable water is as a resource, what accounts for the highest consumption in everyday life, and how water can be saved.

The blue planet

Without water, life would be impossible for humans, animals and plants. The oceans, with their salt water, make up about 97.5% of the total. This leaves about 2.5% fresh water, which occurs almost entirely as groundwater and in glaciers and ice sheets. On earth there is a natural water cycle. This is negatively influenced by anthropogenic interventions such as sealing of surfaces or pollution of water reservoirs, so that the amount of water usable by humans decreases. Germany is in a more than privileged situation in this respect, with water often taken for granted. However, more than 2 billion people do not have direct access to clean drinking water, which is associated with devastating circumstances such as the spread of diseases, malnutrition or increased infant mortality. 

The main causes of water scarcity are climate change, overpopulation, economic growth and our consumption patterns. The consequences are shaking developing countries in particular, but the rest of the world is also increasingly affected by droughts, dry soils and crop failures. In Germany, the levels of rivers and lakes are increasingly falling, making important trade routes impassable. It is therefore high time to do something about this alarming development. Which goods and processes in everyday life hold the greatest potential for savings?

Human water demand

Global water consumption increased about sixfold between 1930 and 2000. Agriculture accounts for the largest share, about 70%, mainly to irrigate grain & other crops that also end up in German supermarkets. In recent decades, agricultural land use has expanded and intensified massively, further fueling the problem: pesticides and nitrates are used liberally and the excess seeps into the groundwater, which is thus contaminated.

In the German economy, most water is used for cooling production and power generation facilities (85%), followed by production itself (just under 11%). In private households, most water is used in the bathroom, where it accounts for almost two-thirds. The leader is showering or bathing with 36%, followed by toilet flushing with 27%. Washing clothes uses 12% of the water, and the dishwasher uses half of it. 

If one looks at the most water-intensive foodstuffs, coffee, cocoa and beef perform particularly badly. The production of one kilogram of cocoa requires 27,000 liters of water, while one kilogram of beef requires just over 15,000 liters. 

Saving water in everyday life

Given the consequences of increasing water scarcity, the facts above make it clear that we should all use water sparingly. We have 10 tips & tricks on how you can save water in everyday life:

  1. Water-saving shower head (approx. 30 – 50% savings compared to conventional shower heads)
  2. Use rainwater to water plants
  3. Saving or stop button on toilet flush
  4. Shower instead of bath
  5. Consider water consumption when buying a new washing machine & co.
  6. Turn off water while soaping up (hands)
  7. Repair dripping faucets
  8. Only run dishwasher & washing machine to full capacity
  9. Wash food in a bowl instead of under running water
  10. Refrain from using high-pressure cleaners (these consume approx. 500 l per hour)

   

As with other sustainability issues, one thing above all is important: awareness and the willingness to question and adapt one’s own behavior. Saving water doesn’t hurt, it’s not time-consuming and it doesn’t cost anything. On the contrary – those who save water also save money and at the same time take care of the responsible use of a valuable resource of this earth, which is the basis of life for humans, animals and plants.

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