30 Days of H20: Final Days

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 30 Days of H20 Campaign.

Here is today’s tip:

3/22: Celebrate World Water Day, review the facts about hidden water and learn to conserve.

From Feb. 22 to March 22, The Nature Conservancy will be raising awareness of just how much water we really use in our daily lives through our 30 Days of H20 campaign, culminating in a celebration or World Water Day on March 22.

Help us countdown to World Water Day by doing the following:

The Final Tips!
3/21: Skip the second cup. It takes 37 gallons of water to make a cup of coffee.

3/22: Celebrate World Water Day, review the facts about hidden water and learn to conserve.

Tips for Week Four
3/14: Get yer low-flow on. A low-flow toilet can save 25 gallons a day.

3/15: Find a car wash that recycles water. The car wash could take 30 gallons to wash 1 car.

3/16: An efficient 6-gallon washer could save 1,250 gallons of water per year.

3/17: It takes 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make a pair of jeans.

3/18: Skip the loafers. It takes 2,192 gallons of water to make 1 pound of leather.

3/19: Use a rain barrel to water your petunias. They can store 50-80 gallons of water..

3/20: Use plants that don’t need water. A garden hose can use 530 gallons of water/hour.

Tips for Week Three
3/7: Enjoy a vegetarian meal. The water footprint of a pound of beef is 1,500 gallons.

3/8: Skip the cocktail. It takes 31 gallons of water to make a glass of wine.

3/9: Grey is the new black. Install a grey water system and save 2,775 gallons per year.

3/10: A family of 4 can save 8,000 gallons of water per year with an efficient clothes washer.

3/11:Ride a bike. It takes an estimated 39,090 gallons of water to make a car.

3/12: Fix your faucet. You can lose 20 gallons per day from one drippy faucet.

3/13: Cut your shower time by 5 minutes and save up to 20 gallons of water per shower.

Tips for Week Two
2/28: Carry a reusable water bottle. It takes 1.5 gallons to make the average plastic bottle.

3/1: Skip the fast food. It takes 634 gallons of water to make a hamburger.

3/2: Use a dishwasher: An efficient dishwasher can save 16 gallons of water vs hand washing.

3/3: Skip desert. It takes 2,847 gallons of water to make a serving of chocolate.

3/4: A dual flush toilet can save a family of 4 more than 17,000 gallons of water per year.

3/5: It takes 400 gallons of water to grow the cotton for a cotton t-shirt.

3/6: Turn off the water while brushing and shaving and save up to 1,000 gallons/month.

Tips for Week One
2/22: Unplug electronics. The average US home uses 4-5 gallons of water to generate power.

2/23: Eat healthy. It takes 49 gallons of H20 to make a bag of chips, but 18 to grow an apple.

2/24: Eat cereal. It takes 72 gallons of water to grow two eggs. 22 gallons for cereal w/milk.

2/25: A family of 4 can save 1,700 gallons of water per year by installing low-flow faucets.

2/26: One word: Plastics. It takes 24 gallons of water to make a pound off plastic.

2/27: Recycle! You can save about 3.5 gallons of water just by recycling a pound a paper.

Resources for hidden water facts
World Water Day 2011

UN Food and Agriculture Organization

H20 Conserve


Water Footprint Network

Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program Water Conservation Facts

The Nature Conservancy: Cracking the Code of Hidden Water

Treehugger: How Many Gallons of Water Does it Take to Make…

Treehugger: From Lettuce to Beef, What’s the Water Footprint of Your Food

Mother Earth News: Half the Water, Twice the Flush!

If you believe in the work we’re doing, please lend a hand.


  1. This is a very interesting article, and I hadn’t heard of many of the statistics listed here. I think it would be very interesting to know the facts behind why the statistics are true. For instance, the last one, “You can save about 3.5 gallons of water just by recycling a pound a paper” makes me want to know where water is being cut from the cycle. I assume it takes more water to make paper from raw materials than from recycled ones, but my initial thought is that sending paper to a landfill doesn’t use any water at all!

    1. Kelsey,
      Thanks for the comment. You are correct, the last tip referrers to the life cycle water use of making paper from trees vs. making paper from recycled materials. I suppose that that tip only alludes to that, but since we want these tips to be spread via twitter we wanted to keep them short… Thanks again for the comment!

  2. when you brush your teeth don’t leave the water on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

  3. Go with a Bricor Low Flow shower head. I installed a 1.25gpm model and cut my water consumption in half. http://goo.gl/3jADE

  4. I have a basin in the kitchen sink, and a bucket.I wash my hands a lot, because I garden, and have a pet, so I collect the handwashing water in the basin and take the bucket of used water into the bathroom to flush the toilet

  5. How many gallons of wather to grow this stupid journalist.

    1. I believe you mean “water.” Sorry you didn’t like the post Patrick. Thanks for reading, though!


  6. “Skip desert. It takes 2,847 gallons of water to make a serving of chocolate.” Can you explain how ?

    1. Paul,
      These water facts include all of the “hidden water” used in the growth, manufacturing and transportation of the chocolate. It’s a measure of global averages of chocolate production.

      Dave Connell

  7. In France this info is also spreading, but everyone is asking the same thing : how much is a “a serving” of chocolate ? And what chocolate are we talking about, muffins ?

  8. ¿ Where can I go to find out:
    1. Does the 1,500 gallon footprint of a pound of beef include the water needed to grow the grain to feed the animal (I understand that it does include the water to raise the animal)?
    2. What makes up the 2,847 gallons to make a “serving” of chocolate?

  9. To clarify my query re chocolate: What is the distribution of the water costs (“… growth, manufacturing and transportation …”)?

  10. I find the figures on chocolate awfully questionable too. If growth and manufacturing and transportation are included, coffee couldn’t have so little in comparison. That’s just reality. I think it also makes a difference if I buy chocolate manufactured in the US, or chocolate first shipped to Belgium or Italy, manufactured there, and then sent to California. (BTW, the answer is no, I don’t buy chocolate manufactured in Europe.)
    And if it is true, I hope I compensate by pretending my toilet is on a septic. Most of the toilet paper goes into the waste can, meaning way fewer flushes. And hey, want to cut your shower usage in half? If you aren’t dirty or sweaty, skip the shower every other day. Totally free solutions. And really, your figures have to be significantly off. There is no way that manufacturing an entire car uses only 40 more times more water than a “serving” of chocolate.

  11. I have tried without success to publish a letter to the editor of the Sacramento Bee to try to start to educate local readers re. the infamous Keystone XL pipeline from Canadian oil (tar) sands .

    I have asked the simple question: “[I]t takes incredible amounts of energy to extract, process, transport and then refine the viscous bitumen in oil sands into various fuels we all know & love. In the process, we use vast amounts of precious, renewable & non-renewable natural resources… It is possible that it will take more energy to extract and refine this substance than will end up in our gas tanks. Has anyone made this complex but essential calculation?”

    Reading this excellent section on water makes me think of another obvious input I foolishly missed: how much water is involved in the mining, processing, transport, & final processing into fuel of this politically, environmentally, economically, & socially toxic product? In a word, it may not be worth it from an energy input point of view to use oil sands as a source of fuel. Could it be that ‘simple’?!

    By the way, if you want a marvelous discussion of energy do not miss Daniel Yergen’s QUEST–Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World.

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