What Is Your Water Footprint?

Take a water tour with us through your home, yard, diet, energy, and consumer choices! Then, pledge to cut your water footprint and help return more water to rivers, lakes, wetlands, underground aquifers, and freshwater species.

Know this: The average American lifestyle is kept afloat by about 2,000 gallons of H2O a day—twice the global average.

The bright side: By pledging to cut your water footprint, you can help restore freshwater ecosystems.


Ready for the challenge? Let's get started...


Float along with us through your kitchen, closet, and daily routine to figure out your water footprint. Then pledge to shrink your footprint by 20% and qualify to win great prizes from the Expedition Blue Planet. The more we save, the more water we leave for healthy ecosystems and a sustainable future.


help tips
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Home

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Water Fact: Only 5% of the average American water footprint is for home use, and close to half of that is for maintaining lawns and gardens.

Let's find out what your home and garden gallons add up to first. Okay?

The water it takes to produce the average American diet alone—approximately 1,000 gallons per person per day—is more than the global average water footprint of 900 gallons per person per day for diet, household use, transportation, energy, and the consumption of material goods.
Diet

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Great start. In the next section, we'll show you that a whopping 50% or more of your water footprint goes to grow and process the food an average American eats every day. Meat and dairy stand out as being some of the most water-intensive fare. Dare to carry on? Let's do it.
The water it takes to produce the average American diet alone—approximately 1,000 gallons per person per day—is more than the global average water footprint of 900 gallons per person per day for diet, household use, transportation, energy, and the consumption of material goods.
Energy

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Water is used to produce the fuels that keep us moving and our planet humming. A gallon of gasoline, for example, requires nearly 13 gallons of H2O to produce. The average American relies on nearly 670 gallons of water a day just for electricity production. So, let's find out how much water you're using to fuel your life!
The water footprint of your daily electricity use takes into account only water withdrawals for thermoelectric power production. It is based on average withdrawals by state, which can vary greatly depending on whether thermoelectric plants use once-through or recirculating cooling systems. If you live in a state mostly using hydroelectric power we're probably underestimating your footprint.
Stuff and Services

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Are you a big shopper? Everything we buy requires water to make. Electronics, cotton, and paper are some of the most water-intensive products. In addition, restaurants, post offices, hospitals, and more, also have water footprints that we share. Ready to find out how much water you're gobbling up with the things you buy? Let's do it!
It takes around 700 gallons of water to make a cotton shirt, and 2,600 gallons to make a pair of jeans — most of them to grow the cotton. On average, every dollar you spend on clothes and shoes costs about 23 gallons of water!
Zip Code

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Please enter your
zip code:
...or try a sample zip code:
The White House 20500
The Grand Canyon 86023
Oprah Winfrey 60607
The Empire State Building 10118
West Hollywood 90027
Climate counts—where you live plays a role in how much water you use, especially when it comes to tending to a yard.
House

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How many people live in your home?
10
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This calculator gives you just YOUR footprint, not your household's.
House

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What year was your home built?
After 1994
Before 1994
I don't know
1994 was the year that federally mandated low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets started to appear on the scene in significant numbers.
House

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Have you replaced any of the following?
Faucets
None
Some
All
Toilets
None
Some
All
Showerheads
None
Some
All
On average, 10 gallons per day of your water footprint (or 14% of your indoor use) is lost to leaks. Short of installing new water-efficient fixtures, one of the easiest, most effective ways to cut your footprint is by repairing leaky faucets and toilets.
Bathroom

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The average American takes about 5 showers a week. How many do you take in a week?
5
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If you use a low-flow showerhead, you can save 15 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower.
Bathroom

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The average American runs a shower for eight minutes. How many minutes does it usually take you to shower?
8
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Every time you shave minutes off your use of hot water, you also save energy and keep dollars in your pocket.
Bathroom

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How many baths instead of showers do you take during an average week?
0
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It takes about 70 gallons of water to fill a bathtub, so showers are generally the more water-efficient way to bathe.
Laundry

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What kind of washing machine do you use?
Front-loading
Top-loading
Top-loading, but it's water and energy-efficient
Most front-loading machines are energy- and water-efficient, using just over 20 gallons a load, while most top-loading machines, unless they are energy-efficient, use 40 gallons per load.
Laundry

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Is your top loader an energy efficient model (20 gallons of water per load)?
Yes
No
Having an energy efficient washing machine can cut the water you use for laundry by half.
Laundry

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The average person does 3 loads of laundry a week. How many loads do you wash every week?
3
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Nearly 22% of indoor home water use comes from doing laundry. Save water by making sure to adjust the settings on your machine to the proper load size.
Kitchen

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Does your household use a dishwasher?
Yes
No
Dishwashing is a relatively small part of your water footprint—less than 2% of indoor use—but there are always ways to conserve. Using a machine is actually more water efficient than hand washing, especially if you run full loads.
Kitchen

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How many loads do you do a week?
10
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Energy Star dishwashers use about 4 gallons of water per load, and even standard machines use only about 6 gallons. Hand washing generally uses about 20 gallons of water each time.
Lawn

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How big is the area of your yard that's growing grass, plants, or trees?
I don't have a yard
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Nearly 60% of a person's household water footprint can go toward lawn and garden maintenance.
Lawn

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What grows in your yard?
Turf grass: 33%
Plants, trees, shrubs: 33%
Low-water use plants, trees, and shrubs: 33%
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Plant grasses and shrubs appropriate for your climate—ones that need only modest amounts of irrigation water to supplement rainfall.
Lawn

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How do you water your yard?
I don't; I let natural rainfall do it
I water efficiently and only when necessary
I water a lot; I think it's better to water too much than too little
Depending on the size of your lawn and whether you live in a dry region of the country, you could be using hundreds of gallons a week to keep your grass green. Save by collecting water in a rain barrel and using this instead of treated public water on your lawn.
Lawn

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Do you have an outdoor pool?
Yes
Yes, and I keep my pool covered
No
The average pool takes 22,000 gallons of water to fill, and if you don't cover it, hundreds of gallons of water per month can be lost due to evaporation.
Diet

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338 gallons of water are used to produce one serving (3 ounces) of beef! Think about that! The average American eats about 7 servings of beef each week. Do you eat more or less?
7 servings weekly
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That quarter pounder is worth more than 30 average American showers. One of the easiest ways to slim your water footprint is to eat less meat and dairy. Another way is to choose grass-fed, rather than grain-fed, since it can take a lot of water to grow corn and other feed crops.
Diet

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Raising and processing poultry also requires water—about 88 gallons per serving (3 ounces). The average person eats 7 servings of poultry a week. Do you eat more or less?
7 servings weekly
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A serving of poultry costs about 90 gallons of water to produce. There are also water costs embedded in the transportation of food (gasoline costs water to make). So, consider how far your food has to travel, and buy local to cut your water footprint.
Diet

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It shouldn't come as a surprise now to learn that it takes about 108 gallons of water to produce a serving (3 ounces) of pork. The average American eats about 6 servings of pork a week. Do you eat more or less?
6 servings weekly
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Pork costs water to produce, and traditional pork production—to make your sausage, bacon, and chops—has also been the cause of some water pollution, as pig waste runs into local water sources.
Diet

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A gallon (16 cups) of milk—from a cow—requires 880 gallons of water to produce. The average American consumes a cup of milk a day. Do you drink more or less?
1 cup daily
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On average, a vegan, a person who doesn't eat meat or dairy, indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water per day less than a person who eats the average American diet.
Diet

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How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
1 cup daily
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A cup of coffee takes 55 gallons of water to make, with most of that H2O used to grow the coffee beans.
Transportation

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What is the average fuel efficiency of the car(s) you drive, in miles per gallon?
20 m.p.g.
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Washing a car uses about 150 gallons of water, so by washing less frequently you can cut back your water use.
Transportation

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How many miles do you drive a year?
12,000 miles
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A gallon of gasoline takes nearly 13 gallons of water to produce. Combine your errands, car pool to work, or take public transportation to reduce both your energy and water use.
Transportation

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We're going to ask you a few questions about how much you fly. First, how many trips to places less than 500 miles away do you take in a year? Count each round-trip as one trip.
0
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Flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco, about 700 miles round-trip, costs you 210 gallons of water, about twice the daily home water use of an average American.
Transportation

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How many trips to places 500-3,000 miles away do you take in a year? Again, count each round-trip as one trip.
0
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A cross-country roundtrip (about 3,000 miles each way) could be worth more than 1,125 flushes of an efficient toilet.
Transportation

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And how many trips to places 3,000-10,000 miles away do you take in a year? Remember, each round-trip is one trip.
0
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Traveling from Chicago to Istanbul and back, about 5,000 miles each way, takes as much water as the average American uses at home in a month.
Energy

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How much do you spend on home heating, cooling, and electricity per month?
$0.00
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The average American spends $264 a month on home heating, cooling, and electricity.
Energy

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How do you get electricity for your home?
From a regular utility
From the utility but also purchased "green tags" or offsets
Partially from the utility, but have also installed a few solar panels
Primarily from rooftop solar panels, micro-hydro or your own wind turbine
Windmills and solar photovoltaic panels require much less water per kilowatt generated than coal, nuclear, and other thermoelectric plants.
Energy

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How would you describe the appliances and lighting in your home?
Standard stuff
Have replaced a few fixtures and appliances with efficient options
Complete set of Energy Star-certified appliances and fixtures
Every kilowatt takes gallons to produce, so when you shift to energy-efficient lighting and appliances, you also save water.
Stuff and Services

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The average American spends $1,800 a year on clothes and shoes, including jeans, T-shirts, running shoes, suits, and dress shoes. Do you spend more or less?
A lot more
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It takes about 100 gallons of water to grow and process a single pound of cotton, and the average American goes through about 35 pounds of new cotton material each year. Do you really need that additional T-shirt?
Stuff and Services

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The average American spends about $1,600 a year to furnish a home. How about you? Include furniture, flooring, lighting, appliances, window coverings, and so on.
A lot more
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One of the best ways to conserve water is to buy recycled goods, and to recycle your stuff when you're done with it. Or, stick to buying only what you really need.
Stuff and Services

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The average American spends about $1,500 a year on electronics, from computers to home entertainment systems. Do you spend more or less?
A lot more
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The water required to create your laptop could wash nearly 70 loads of laundry in a standard machine.
Stuff and Services

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Paper soaks up a lot of water! The average person spends about $100 a MONTH on paper, including reading materials, office paper, toilet paper, well you get it... How about you?
A lot more
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Recycling a pound of paper, less than the weight of your average newspaper, saves about 3.5 gallons of water. Buying recycled paper products saves water too, as it takes about six gallons of water to produce a dollar's worth of paper.
Your score
(gallons/day)
U.S. average  
100
 
1,056
 
700
 
232
 
2,088
Your score
(gallons/day)
151
1,039
738
19
1,947
Your pledge  
151
 
1,039
 
738
 
19
 
1,947
U.S. average  
100
 
1,056
 
700
 
232
 
2,088
Click on the areas below to take action to reduce your levels of consumption

Water used in your home and yard

Water used for your diet

Water used for your transportation and energy

Water used by your stuff

Help Save the Colorado River

You can help restore freshwater ecosystems by pledging to cut your water footprint. For every pledge, Change the Course will restore 1,000 gallons back to the Colorado River.


Every Drop Counts!

We live in a watery world, with the average American lifestyle fueled by nearly 2,000 gallons of H2O a day.

What may come as a surprise is that very little of that—only five percent—runs through toilets, taps, and garden hoses at home. Nearly 95 percent of your water footprint is hidden in the food you eat, energy you use, products you buy, and services you rely on.


Find out your water footprint, then pledge to dry it out, joining other nationalgeographic.com users who have already committed to saving thousands of gallons.


The more we save, the more water we leave for healthy ecosystems and a sustainable future.


Water-saving facts and tips

Water calculator sources and credits

Change the Course Infographic

 

Check out this infographic and learn how you can conserve water and save the Colorado River, as well as other freshwater ecosystems.


Share it with your friends!