You Use Twice As Much Water As You Think

How much water do you think you use on a daily basis? Well, double that amount. A new study shows that Americans underestimate their personal water usage by about half. With so many people using twice the amount of water that they realize, itís no wonder that conservation efforts are difficult.

Currently, many parts of the country are undergoing a major drought, so the need to reduce water is especially urgent. While water experts believe that people need about 13 gallons of clean water to survive each day, Americans tend to use nearly 100 gallons each day. Where is all that excess water going? The Los Angeles Times broke down the findings of the research:

Think Beyond Showers

When Americans were asked how they thought they could best reduce their water usage, nearly half went with the standard ďshorter showerĒ answers. The truth is that abbreviating showers by even three minutes only cuts down on a personís daily water use by 8%. In that sense, showers are not as big of a factor as most seem to think. While itís not to say that itís pointless to jump out of the shower sooner, certainly there are other ways to make a bigger impact.


Wash Clothes Smarter

For a household device that actually significantly influences your water usage, look no further than your washing machine. While doing laundry requires water, the precise amount can differ greatly depending on the model of the washer. Average top-loading machines require 34 gallons for each cycle, yet a high-efficiency uses only half of this amount to clean clothes as effectively. Switching to a more eco-friendly has a drastic impact, particularly over the long term, yet most survey respondents didnít even realize there was much of a difference in these washer models.


Consider Your Diet

Although itís even easier to disregard water that you donít see running right in front of you, the types of food you consume need water to be produced. In general, test subjects believe that all foods are created with roughly equal amounts of water. As the paper points out, a pound of sugar uses 157 gallons, a pound of rice uses 299 gallons, a pound of cheese uses 606 gallons, and a pound of coffee takes 2,264 gallons. Clearly, all foods arenít equal when it comes to water.

If youíre interested in learning more about how much water goes into making the food you eat, start with this interactive quiz from the USGS Water Science School. Youíll be surprised how much water goes into just getting a single potato onto your dinner plate.



Ready for the number one change you can make to save water in your home? Itís the toilet! Nearly 30% of the water we use each day comes from flushing, but most people polled didnít guess anywhere close to that, perhaps because weíre taught not to think about what goes on in the bathroom.

As the EPA advises, a low-flow toilet is the best tool. On average, these toilets use just 1.6 gallons per flush, whereas normal johns go through more than twice that amount. Surprisingly, only a small percentage of Americans even realized this kind of technology existed, which makes it no surprise that more people havenít fitted their homes with toilets that conserve water.



Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Diane L.
Diane L.2 years ago

All GREAT suggestions, Pego ..........and glad to see you back posting again and hopefully the computer issues fixed for good!

In addition, since this is a discussion about water, I have, personally, not been one to have to worry about water since I live in a very, VERY rainy climate and am on a private well that I've been told will never go "dry". However, I do try to do my part to help the environment. My own water consumption does not affect anyone else's, but I still do what I can to not waste.

I saw on TV recently, and do NOT remember where, a municipality had put up "rain barrels" along sidewalks in town and painted them with very pretty pastels and floral prints/designs. Everyone who has seen them think they're extremely attractive. If one doesn't know what a "rain barrel" is, it's basically just that.........a 55-gal. drum left out to catch rain water which is then re-used for watering plants, taking showers, washing clothes/dishes, flushing toilets, etc. If I could only "catch", save and reuse the rainwater standing out in my driveway right now, I wouldn't have to turn on a faucet for a month, maybe longer!

Pego R.
Pego R.2 years ago

We can deal with many of these problems with careful buying. For one to simply stop buying toe-catchers, plastic crap that doesn’t last and doesn’t really improve our lives in any significant manner or worse, makes it more toxic, fake fabric clothes, purses, shoes and wallets that have to be thrown out after a couple years or even just a few months. The more durable thick cottons, wools and leather still use up less to make and last longer than the fakes. There are handy water-use guides that have a lot of info and hints, tho they are still failing at differentiating much between the careful Olla-watered veggi gardens and wasteful suburb-standard lawns or between the hugely water-wasteful CAFO beef and the pastured poultry or rabbits that take a hundredth of the water, or even pasture-finished cattle that cut water-use by 75%. They don’t even take into account the difference between a water toilet and the new composters and living-machine types of toilets

Pego R.
Pego R.2 years ago

This is a very important issue these days. Americans use far, FAR more than we realize. Not just what we pour out of our own taps, but hidden volumes embedded in everything from bottled water, our endless stream of useless tchotchkes and “fashion”, turning on the gas, which now is sourced in INCREDIBLY destructive fracking operations. It is true that our most commercialized, commoditized animal proteins are sourced in the MOST water dependent animal, (beef) that is handled in THE most water dependent, CAFO type of moving agriculture to industrialization. A really good source of the real studies on water dependence for agriculture is “Meat” by Simon Fairlie, who troubled himself to do the fact-checking and look at the peer-reviews

Manuela C.
Manuela C.2 years ago

Thanks. Every drop counts!

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se2 years ago


Dale O.

Thank you Pamela W, for the novel idea that coffee consumption should not equal a guilt trip. Buying Fair Trade coffee helps a lot. However, since it takes a lot of water to produce paper and therefore the disposable paper cups that people often use for coffee take out, obviously using a steel or other (preferably not plastic) travel mug helps cut down on the production of paper. (Not to mention plastic resins used to fabricate paper cups as well).

A cup of coffee, Pamela W?
I certainly find it hard to believe that one eight ounce steak (pound of beef) "equals the water consumption of the average household for a year in the U.S."
At times some vegans quote from rather old studies that have been updated with newer data or use studies that tend to be from agencies favouring a plant-based diet.

Pamela W.
Pamela W.2 years ago

Diane L ......... NO, I don't feel AT ALL guilty about my coffee ; neither the coffee itself (fair-trade) nor the water it takes to make it !!
I don't "waste" water .... I have water butts in several places, to catch rainwater from the various building - that gets used for watering the garden etc. I have a low-flush toilet (as mentioned in the article) PLUS, in times of drought, I use the "old fashioned" solution of placing a brick in the cistern to reduce the intake of water anyway. My washing machine has an "water economy" setting (which gets used regularly) and my dishwasher is nigh on redundant these days !! Showers are much more economical than FILLING a bath (something the article forgot to mention) ..... so I do my bit !! I'm keeping my coffee LOL !!

What does irritate me here are the attempts to turn this into YET ANOTHER vegan thread ..... there are already plenty of threads dedicated solely to that - GIVE US A BREAK !!!

Diane L.
Diane L.2 years ago

Thank you, Dale for pointing out all those fallacies in the vegan propaganda, and you as well, Pamela for even more revelations to those who think they are blameless. It's always the "other side, isn't it? I'd question anything put out in 2007 (7 years ago) by an obviously A/R or vegan group, not to mention one published in 1987 (27 years ago)by somebody who was "nominated" for a publishing award, but obviously didn't get it.

Now, all you coffee drinkers out there.........don' you feel just a TAD bit "guilty" of contributing to the destruction of the planet?

Oh, Roxanna, I have utmost empathy for you living in East Texas. If I could, I'd send the rain we've been getting here in the Puget Sound area your way. My back "yard" and driveway are under 6" of standing water and my garage has a virtual moat around it.

Pamela W.
Pamela W.2 years ago

Vasu M ....... It's always a good idea to check the viability of statistics, before presenting them - wouldn't you agree ? Have you compared the ones you provided in your posts ? Maths is my pet subject and, even without using a calculator, I can see that they all contradict each other ........ so which "expert" do we believe ??? ......

2:15PM PST on Mar 6 ......... "Half of all fresh water worldwide is used for thirsty livestock. Producing eight ounces of beef requires an unimaginable 25,000 liters of water, or the water necessary for one pound of steak equals the water consumption of the average household for a year.

"The Worldwatch Institute estimates one pound of steak from a steer raised in a feedlot costs: five pounds of grain, a whopping 2,500 gallons of water, the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, and about 34 pounds of topsoil."

2:15PM PST on Mar 6 ......... "It takes nearly one gallon of fossil fuel and 5,200 gallons of water to produce just one pound of conventionally fed beef. (Mother Jones)"

2:16PM PST on Mar 6 ......... "Half the water consumed in the U.S. irrigates land growing feed and fodder for livestock. It takes 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat, but 2,500 gallons to produce a pound of meat."

Do the maths yourself and you'll see what I mean .........