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How water is Consumed Directly and Indirectly
June 22, 2020 · Aaron Burr

How water is Consumed Directly and Indirectly


It is the essence of life and yet we tend to take it for granted in numerous ways. What a luxury to have clean and reliable water always available. The truth is we couldn’t last a week without it, which is kind of crazy to think about!

As we approach 8 billion people on this planet, water is becoming more and more of an issue when it comes to how much we are consuming. The more people there are, the more water we will need. This is true in both a direct way as well as an indirect way. 

Direct water consumption

Direct water consumption

As we may probably assume from the name, this is when we directly consume water. And it is obvious when we do it, even if we aren’t so conscious about its amounts. Direct water consumption is what most think of when we think of our water footprint.

These are the obvious things such as:

  • Showering.
  • Shaving.
  • Brushing our teeth.
  • Washing our hands.
  • Washing clothes.
  • Washing dishes.
  • Getting a car wash.
  • Honestly, washing anything.
  • Drinking water (or drinks that have water in them).
  • Flushing the toilet.
  • Watering the lawn (or garden!)
  • Leaking water.

There are many things we do on a day to day basis that without water would be quite difficult. While many of these things like washing our hands or brushing our teeth don’t use that much water, it’s important to still be intentional about what we do use. Plus, these little things add up!

Indirect water consumption

Indirect water consumption

And then there is indirect consumption. As we may assume, these are the less obvious things that require water. And even though we may not be literally consuming the water, we are certainly demanding it.

All of these things require water, and in relatively massive quantities:

  • Food.
  • Alcohol and drinks.
  • Energy sources like fossil fuels (or even the manufacturing of renewable energy products).
  • Heat (depending on the sources).
  • Paper, whether it be for writing or for tissues and toilets.
  • Plastics, whether it be for single use bottles or cotton swabs.
  • Clothing!
  • Really any physical products...ever. All of them.
  • Cooling for servers like cloud storage and what not.

As we are beginning to see, almost everything we own, buy, or partake in requires water. Water is essential to life on this earth so it’s no surprise that it’s essential to our lives. Not to mention our things and activities.

It’s a beautiful thing knowing we are so connected to the natural world, but it can also be quite the wake up call. When we learn about how our actions affect the natural processes on this earth, we begin to learn the importance of being more intentional about those actions.

A simple thing like blowing our nose with a single use tissue instead of a reusable one now has to be justified to ourselves. Or even a single use cotton swab as opposed to a reusable one. Or how about plant based eating vs more animal based.

reusable tissues

Whether it be washing our hands, washing our clothes, or using the energy from a dryer to dry those same clothes, every bit of consumption that we partake in that is or isn’t mindful will develop habits for everything else we consider in our lives. 

We will always have a footprint and will always demand or consume resources. No footprint isn’t the goal. But as water becomes more and more scarce and humans become more and more prevalent, it would behoove us to consider our consumption and discern between what does or doesn’t add value. 

“Live simply so that others may simply live.” - Ghandi