An Earth Day Commitment: GRACE Updates the Water Footprint Calculator


Image by GRACE staff.

For the environmentally minded, Earth Week is a chance to celebrate both the natural world and the environmental movement that sprang from the grassroots to the mainstream 41 years ago. As the biodegradable confetti lands and the celebrations subside, there is opportunity for reflection on the previous year’s environmental achievements.

The first Earth Day inspired a diverse mix of over 20 million people to hit the streets and proclaim that the Earth and its resources are inherently worth fighting for; a belief not widely held prior to this day. While progress is being made, enormous environmental problems are seemingly everywhere, a long list of which could be tallied in a “catalog of despair.” Two that I wrestle with daily are increasing freshwater scarcity and deteriorating water quality.

But “woe is me” won’t cut it.

Instead, we at GRACE are taking action by solidifying our foothold in the water footprinting discipline (and movement), a promising water conservation strategy.

We're happy to announce that we have updated the GRACE’s Water Footprint Calculator (WFC). In order to improve the users' experience and understanding of water footprints, new features have been included, like a pop-up window with enhanced tips and information.

The changes help to emphasize what makes the GRACE WFC so unique. We already incorporated direct and indirect (virtual) water use into our calculations. Direct water use, or the water you see flowing from your tap, is something most of us are familiar with. Virtual water, on the other hand, is the water you use but might not see because it is “hidden” in the food, products and services you buy and use everyday. (Learn more about the virtual water in your food, energy and products.) All of these products take huge amounts of water to grow, manufacture, process and transport. We've provided a bit more text explaining how these concepts work, especially with energy and diet. It’s all designed to help you understand that choices like eating less meat and processed food or just generally buying less stuff can dramatically reduce your water footprint.

If you've never taken the WFC or haven’t done so in awhile, Earth Week is a good time to check out the updates and estimate your water use, all while learning how to reduce your water footprint. Regardless of how groundbreaking or pedestrian your actions may be, in the end what matters is a commitment to constant effort and improvement—just like updating the WFC. Confetti and celebrations aside, one major aspect of Earth Day is its reminder to keep up the good work!