Food Waste and the Growing Water Scarcity Problem

The future outlook is not bright, seeing as California only has approximately a year’s worth of water left in its reserves, and while 1,2 billion people around the world lack access to clean water, the UN estimates that two-thirds of the world’s population could be living in water stressed conditions by 2025. With the on-going news of water droughts throughout the world, from California to India, there has been some talk of how much water we really have access to, and when we will really start running out.

Not only are we not returning the water we’re exploiting, but some of the water that does get put back is being polluted by the harsh conditions and chemical products present above ground, from things like fertilizers and industrial waste. This is an important issue when talking about food waste, as 70-80% of the global water consumption every year goes toward agriculture. The IME has stated that water requirements could need to increase by up to three times the current use by 2050. But is our water consumption sustainable enough for this to even be achieved? In some places, 20 times more water is being pumped out of the ground than is being put back in, providing an unsustainable situation. Just take a look at the San Joaquin Valley in California as an example, where we’re seeing the ground in the area begin to sink, a product of us not refilling the underground water aquifers.

Agriculture is by far the biggest consumer of water, and the fact that it takes 15,415 litres of water to make only 1kg of beef shows how inefficient our food production is, especially while we’re so unsure of how to feed the world population’s growing need for water. The FAO estimates that food waste alone uses 25% of our yearly water consumption, and is something that must be avoided to feed this growing need for water. You can start helping to chip away at the problem today by being conscious of food waste and doing your part to minimize it.

Lake Mead's Water Scarcity
Lake Mead is a perfect visual of the growing water scarcity in the Western US.
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