20 Days of H2O

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Published on March 2nd, 2012  |  Discuss This Article  

World Water Day 2012 - 20 Days of H2O

37 gallons of water to make a cup of coffee… 49 gallons of water to make a bag of chips… 400 gallons of water to grow cotton for a t-shirt. The hidden water used to produce the food we eat and the items we consume is incredible. Help us spread the word about these hidden water users through our 20 Days of H2O Campaign.

From March 2 to March 22, The Nature Conservancy will be raising awareness of just how much water we really use in our daily lives, culminating in a celebration or World Water Day on March 22.

Here is today’s tip:

3/22: Tell everyone you know it’s World Water Day! Celebrate & share how you plan to save H2O this year.


20 Days of H2O:

3/2: Drink tea. It takes 37 gallons of H2O to make 1 cup of coffee, but only 9 to make a cup of tea.

3/3: One person’s trash is another’s treasure, so thrift shop!

3/4: Eat your leftovers. 25% of the H2O that goes into growing food in the U.S. is wasted.

3/5: Get a reusable H2O bottle. It takes about 1.5 gallons of H2O to make a plastic bottle.

3/6: Unplug chargers & electronics. 1 day of electricity at home uses 4-5 gallons of H2O.

3/7: Eat healthy. A bag of chips = 49 gallons of H2O, but a baked potato = 7 gallons.

3/8: Run washing machines & dishwashers when they’re full. Large loads = less H2O used!

3/9: Take used clothes to Goodwill. It takes about 1,800 gallons of H2O to grow cotton for 1 pair of jeans!

3/10: Water your lawn or garden in the morning/evening when H2O evaporates less rapidly.

3/11: Turn off the lights. It can take over 4 gallons of H2O to keep a 60-watt light bulb lit for 12 hours.

3/12: Get reusable utensils, so you don’t have to use plastic ones. 1 pound of plastic = 24 gallons of H2O.

3/13: Plant a tree to help fight pollution of our H2O sources.

3/14: Eat fresh foods. Often more H2O goes into manufacturing processed foods than growing fresh foods.

3/15: Reach out to your favorite brands on Facebook or Twitter to see how they reduce their H2O footprint.

3/16: Use biodegradable cleaners & cleansers to reduce pollution of our streams & bays.

3/17: Install a hot H2O pump to get your hot H2O faster, while saving H2O.

3/18: Check out our infographic & post your own H2O saving tips on the #20daysofh2o blog.

3/19: Go for the soy burger. It takes 621 gallons of H2O to produce a hamburger & 42 gallons to produce a soy burger.

3/20: Learn where your H2O comes from, with our interactive map. Share it with family & friends.

3/21: Skip happy hour. It takes 31 gallons of water to make a glass of wine.

3/22: Tell everyone you know it’s World Water Day! Celebrate & share how you plan to save H2O this year.

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28 Responses to “20 Days of H2O”

  1. Martin says:

    It may take less water to grow tea than to grow coffee, but it’s not as if Guatemalan farmers will start growing tea if i stop buying their coffee.

  2. pamela says:

    Get a reusable bottle that is NOT plastic…

  3. lesahipes says:

    wow i did not know drinking tea used less water than coffee. Yeah for me 30+ years I have easily been doing something “green”

  4. Be Green says:

    “One person’s trash is another’s treasure, so thrift shop!” – can you explain the H2O link there?

  5. mullvang says:

    traditiobally, we use dry gourd to keep the water. thien thai waterfall is home to god of water

  6. Jackie Young says:

    Hi, Be Green. My name is Jackie Young and I work for The Nature Conservancy. Thanks for taking the time to submit this question. By going out and buying used products, you’re using less water because a new product doesn’t have to be made. A lot of water goes into making the products that we buy and use. For example, 400 gallons of water go into growing enough cotton to make 1 cotton t-shirt!

  7. Mark Spalding says:

    Go Global TNC! For those of us who don’t speak in old gallons
    1 gallon = 3.79 litres
    so cup of coffee = 140 L
    bag of chips (crisps!) = 185 L
    T-shirt = 1500 L (1.5 tonnes!)

  8. Anthony says:

    lol so if u drink coffee u can’t be a conservationist then right?

    Wow green movement is indeed starting to drift into obscurity…

  9. Genevieve says:

    If I stop drinking coffee, then I will impoverish 100′s of Colombian farmers whom I support by consuming gallons of coffee weekly. But I raid piles of stuff put out when other people move for clothing,etc (just got a computer desk, microwave, blankets, designer clothing, etc. from across the parking lot at my condo complex). I use these items, or sell them on Craig’s List. I also go to flea markets and thrift stores, trying to keep my commerce as much within my community to support my neighbors when I can. I wonder why they didn’t list how much it costs to grow a chocolate bar?!

  10. Fran Kew says:

    Thank you for the eye opener info. Very informative!

  11. leno Davis says:

    Don’t wash your car. or wait until it rains and then give it a quick wipe :) super cheap and eco-friendly

  12. Linda says:

    Is it really necessary to shower or bathe every single day? Are there days (e.g. Saturday or Sunday in seasons when it is not warm outside) when you can skip it? Can you wear that item of clothing one more time before throwing it in the wash?
    Buy as much locally-grown produce as possible.

  13. Matthew says:

    Any time my wife and I have to get the hot water running, we bottle the cold water instead of simply letting it purge before you get hot water. It normally takes 1 – 1.5 gallons to do so, assuming the you haven’t any run hot water in the past few hours. We reuse all of this water by dumping it into our wash machine, using it to wash dishes, water plants, etc. We not only save a lot of water but also save money, since we have to pay for our water.

  14. Green Wise Kids says:

    Thanks for the extra info.I often read my book,”Green Wise Kids” at elementary schools & I plan to use some of your examples of water conservation next time. Green Bean the Frog & Bernado are a few of the puppets who will share your information with the kids….Thanks ..keep up the great work.

  15. Joan Hasselgren says:

    don’t drink coffee, don’t wear clothes, don’t buy new clothes, don’t drive, don’t wash your car, don’t drink water, don’t drink wine, don’t eat meat, don’t eat grain, don’t wash your non-worn clothes, don’t be a techie, don’t watch tv, sit in the dark. So if I only purchase old clothes, am a vegetarian, don’t drink anything except tea, don’t use technology, don’t wash my vehicle, don’t water the garden, then I will be a responsible person? Is there a place for moderation? I try to live responsibly and I do love to go without clothes (but probably will get arrested), I purchase from thrift stores and consignment stores but using someone else’s underwear isn’t very wise and shoes already worn to someone else’s foot don’t fit well, I like wine and coffee and the occasional tea, I am mostly vegetarian, I never wash my truck, I hardly water the garden so am I considered a greedy water person?

  16. jj says:

    Please, replace old toilets with 1.6 gallon per flush or better yet, 1.28 gpf units. Make sure new toilets have a 5 star flush rating because a toilet you have to flush twice doesn’t save much water. Rebates to help offset costs may be available from your local water department.

  17. jj says:

    Also consider replacing old faucets with new Water Sense certified ones. Check with a website like faucetsdirect.com to see which faucets use the least amount of water. While you’re at it make sure that your shower heads are the low flow type. If they are not, consider replacing them.

    Remember this, if your water usage is metered and you pay based on how much you use, more water saved = more money saved on your water bill.

  18. Judith says:

    Is there a gizmo that I can use to pump H2O from my tub/shower?

  19. Ky says:

    Turn off your water in the shower while you are washing your hair or body (only turn on the water to wet or rinse). In the shower you use about 2 gallons of water a minute.

  20. Ali Roman says:

    How about something that no one is willing to talk about: “if its yellow let it mellow.” First of all having toilets is a luxury. The water that we so readily flush away every time we tinkle is the same water that comes out of our taps…its perfectly good, potable water. More than 1 billion people on this planet don’t have access to clean, potable water and yet we people in America and Europe flush perfectly drinkable water down the drain just to get rid of a bit of pee. I know it may not be easy to do it all the time, like in communal bathrooms, but I think reserving a flush whenever we can will save a tremendous amount of water.

  21. Michelle Guerin says:

    If we don’t take measures to conserve WATER NOW, we will be fighting World War III over it in the future. That plus the ravages of climate change will finish our planet Earth.

  22. Katy says:

    Wash out and reuse your plastic ziploc bags a few times before recycling them. Saves money too. You can be a conservationist and cheap as well!

  23. Arlene says:

    All these ideas can be implemented as often as possible. If you prefer coffee, it would be good to be aware that the partly consumed cup might be the wasteful part of that cup or mug. The suggestion about flushing less often is viable at home or if you are with a friend who is also one who cares about careful use of water and the two of you can flush just once for the two pees. I think it’s important to conserve to the best of our abilities. For those who are in the work of educating folks or lobbying for ways to change for the better, go for it. We need everyone’s efforts.

  24. Donna says:

    I don’t think I CAN give up coffee. BUT, I buy only Fair Trade and Organic, so that helps.
    And when I have left over coffee (unusual, but it happens) I use it on my plants and shrubs–put the grounds in the soil also. Coffee contains nitrogen–great for plants.
    Even coffee drinkers can be greener.

  25. Leroy says:

    Planting rain gardens or french drains to soak up rain water from gutters or paved areas helps allot. I auger holes and fill it with sand. Want to stay about 10 feet away from structures or pavements. It reduces storm runoff and helps to clean water as it moves through the soil. Google kansas city rain gardens for other ideas.

  26. Marilyn Pearl says:

    Our society makes it difficult to ALWAYS do the best thing for the environment, but being aware of the impact we each have, and what can be done to reduce that, will make us better stewards than others, or than we used to be. My water company says average water consumption per person per day is 70 gallons. My use is consistently in the low 40s. It’s not that hard. If you’re concerned with saving money, be aware the water company charges more for sewage treatment than for water, so get a rain barrel extra free water.

  27. Melissa Pejrano says:

    If you have a garden or yard with some hidden corners, pee there. It’s clean, no water gets flushed, the plants get fertilized. I know the idea is shocking for many folks.
    How about making watering the garden the exception, not the rule? Accept that your grass will go brown in the summer, and the roses will bloom only when it rains. Select plants that are adapted to your conditions and water them the first year only, keep an organic mulch or plant cover on the ground, don’t disturb the soil after initial preparation. It helps a lot to have heavy soil. Watering by hand may make the user more conscious of the amount of consumption.
    I wish to goodness we had gray water systems. We’re currently in drought mode and are leaving water in the tub for flushing the toilet.
    Warm up water can be collected for watering the plants or other uses.
    Does espresso coffee use less coffee (I drink espresso with hot water and milk added) for the same amount of resulting beverage, equal strength? My impression is it does.
    As a confirmed, and guilty feeling, wine drinker, I wonder where the statistics on water use in wine production come from. I live in Italy surrounded by vineyards and I never see them irrigated. In addition, in our area ground used for vineyards often isn’t good for any other kind of cultivation (this last comment isn’t directly water related).
    I agree that cleanliness can be overdone, personal, of the house, and of the car. Keep in mind the character of the cleaning materials you use and then recycle the water when you can. Vinegar is a good grease cutter and harmless on plants. A good basic principle is to clean when there’s actual dirt, and not just as a habit.

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