If you also drink a cup of soy milk instead of cow’s milk you can save another 47 gallons each time (2,447 gallons per year if you make the switch once per week). So between the burger and the milk, that’s a total savings of 32,559 gallons per person per year, enough to take 814 baths. Trust me, choosing soy products instead of cow products is a lot easier than trying to save that much water at home (and way easier than installing aerators at restaurants, which requires stealth).
Think about that: you could shut off your water at home (no toilet, no shower, no washing machine, etc.) and still have less impact than switching from beef to soy once per week*.
Inspired? The average American eats 57.3 pounds of beef and drinks 20 gallons of milk per year; swap that all out for soy and save 115,396 gallons of water each year! If you don’t like soy, there are plenty of other options.
You can educate yourself on how much water various foods and drinks require at a fantastic web site put out by the Water Footprint Network. (Before you click over, let me warn you: you may not want to know.)
So if you find yourself pulling your hair out because you can’t afford a front-loading washer, or if it starts to seem like a good idea to leave a spare aerator and a wrench in your backpack (just in case), remember there’s an easier way.
* Note that if you wanted to offset your outdoor water use as well as indoor use, be prepared to switch another 1.6 cups of milk a week for soy milk.
For all of the actual calculations used in this article, see the spreadsheet I created.
(Image: Water drop. Source: Flickr user Casper H. Petersen via a Creative Commons license.)
Jon Fisher is a data management specialist for The Nature Conservancy, the world’s leading conservation organization. He has studied forestry, environmental biology, stream ecology, environmental engineering and how technology and spatial analysis can improve wildlife management at airports. He also loves to cook delicious vegan food. Opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Nature Conservancy.