Make a Difference

This section provides practical information on how people can take action to reduce their impact on the water environment at home and in the workplace.

Water Footprint

The water footprint of an individual, business or country is defined as the total volume of fresh water that is used to produce the foods and services consumed by the individual, business or country. A water footprint is generally expressed in terms of the volume of water used per year. If action is taken to reduce individuals’ and organisations’ water footprint, the volume of water abstracted from rivers, lakes and groundwater resources is reduced. This conserves resources and reduces pressures on wildlife habitats.

( is a UNECSO run website which provides water footprint and virtual water information. It contains a calculator for individual and national water footprints, which allows comparisons to be made between different countries and lifestyles.

Virtual Water

The virtual water content of a product is the volume of water used to produce the product, measured at the place where the product is manufactured. The virtual water content of a product can also be defined as the volume of water that would have been required to produce the product in the place where the product is consumed. For example, it takes 140 litres of water to produce a cup of instant coffee, because of the water used to grow the coffee and then process it into a useable form. The production of one kilogram of beef requires 16,000 litres of water.

The virtual water import of a country or region is the volume of water associated with the import of goods or services into the country or region. It is the total volume of water required in the export countries to produce the products for export. Viewed from the perspective of the importing country, this water can be seen as an additional source of water that comes on top of the locally available water resources.

Knowing the virtual water associated with various goods increases peoples’ awareness of the importance of water to all aspects of life and enables them to make informed choices about diet and consumption patterns. The following links provide information on how to reduce the impact on the water environment through reducing the amount of water consumed and through using cleaner technologies which release less pollution into the environment.

Saving Water

The Environment Agency website has practical information on how to reduce water use in the home, garden, in business and farming.


The water section of the Envirowise WRAP website offers guidance, good practice and general information on reducing water consumption and adopting cleaner practices to reduce water pollution.

The Water Guide website

This Website from the Guides Network includes advice and tips on how to save water in the home and garden.



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