How Much Water Does It Take to Make All Our Stuff?

More About Water

It’s easy to not think about how much water is used to make things that we use everyday. However, besides implementing tips for water conservation, understanding how water is used to make things is important in our goal of reducing water consumption. It’s not just the water used to make stuff but also the water used for growing, processing and transporting. For example, cotton uses a tremendous amount of water to grow and to eventually become a pair of stylish jeans. Those morning lattes from the local coffeeshop use more water than is served in a given cup. And given the huge amounts of water used in manufacturing, many companies are looking for ways to reduce their water footprints.

How Much Water Does Agriculture Use?

It takes much more water to make things for the American dinner table than one would imagine. Obviously food crops need water to thrive, however, many people would be surprised to learn how much water is used to grow our food. It takes almost 20 gallons of water for one apple, 4,000 gallons for one bushel of corn and 11,000 gallons for one bushel of wheat. It takes over 15,000 gallons of water to raise a cow from birth to slaughter.

How Much Water Does It Take to Make Food?

It takes an amazing 53 gallons of water to make a latte. This figure may be hard to believe given that most lattes are just over a cup. Planet Green’s Brian Merchant states in a recent article that each latte requires water for the cane sugar’s growth, the plastic lid’s manufacture, the paper cup and sleeve’s manufacture, as wells as for the transportation costs for all of the above. Hamburgers take a whopping 634 gallons of water to make mostly given the cost of raising beef.

How Much Water Does It Take to Make Clothing?

According to, it takes over 1,500 gallons of water  to produce the cotton in one pair of jeans. And that’s just for growing the cotton, it doesn’t include the water used to dye jeans or to ‘weather’ them so that new jeans look and feel ‘broken in.’ It takes 400 gallons of water to grow the cotton to make one shirt. Water consumption for growing cotton crops is huge and cotton is the largest natural fiber textile in the world accounting for 40% of textile production.

How Much Water Does Our Corporate Footprint Reflect?

Most companies know how much water it takes to make things and are looking for ways to decrease water consumption for their products and for their supply chains. For example, Levi’s has recently introduced a new brand called Water less, that reduces water usage by an average of 28% and up to 96% for some products. Water Footprint Network recommends that companies complete their water footprint assessment manual to review their water usage. It provides for a global standard on definitions and calculations how how much water we’re using.