Governments, consumers, businesses and agricultural organisations are becoming more aware of the problems we face with water. Still, there is a long way to go before we as consumers will get information trough product labels or other guidelines on wether a product is produced in a water- responsible way or not. The water footprint can be used to help us start making more environmentally aware decisions in the future and be at the foundation of new policies that protect water where it is needed.
In order to know what we eat, we will need a form of product transparency that is currently completely lacking. It is reasonable that consumers (or consumer organisations on their behalf) have access to information about how water intensive a particular product is and to which extent it relates to water depletion and pollution.
Establishing a mechanism that makes sure that such information is available is not an easy task. It requires a form of accounting along production and supply chains that accumulates relevant information all the way to the end point of a chain, which is a huge undertaking.
Knowing the water footprint of the products and goods we produce and consume, allows you to understand how much water is used to make your every day consumer products. There is a direct relationship between your consumption decisions and the impact it has around the world but most of use are not aware of this. The product water footprint can help you acknowledge and consider the impact of your consumption choices. For business and governments, it can help them make their water footprint sustainable and equitable.
Go vegan or eat less meat. Vegetarians generally have a water footprint that is two-thirds lower. Now, you do not necessarily need to become vegetarian but by varying your diet and choosing to eat food with a smaller water footprint, you can make a big difference.
This requires, however, that consumers have proper information to make that choice. Since this information is generally not available in today’s world, an important thing consumers can do is demand product transparency from businesses and regulation from governments. When information is available on the impact of certain products, consumers are able to make conscious choices to buy products made in a responsible and sustainable way.
Knowing the water footprint of the products and goods we produce and consume, allows: Consumers to understand how much water is used to make their every day consumer products and to understand the relationship between their consumer decisions and the issues of water scarcity and degraded water quality, not only where they live but in river basins around the world. The product water footprint can help citizens acknowledge and consider the impact on water of their consumption choices, choose to reduce their own water footprint and encourage companies and governments to take the steps necessary to make all of humanity’s water footprint sustainable, efficient and equitable.
But this approach has limitations, because many people don’t easily shift from meat to vegetarian and people like their coffee and cotton. A second option is to stick to the same consumption pattern but to select the cotton, beef or coffee that has a relatively low water footprint or that has its footprint in an area that doesn’t have high water scarcity. This requires, however, that consumers have proper information to make that choice. Since this information is generally not available in the world of today, an important thing consumers can do now is demand product transparency from businesses and regulation from governments. When information is available on the impacts of a certain product, consumers can make conscious choices about what they buy.