So, here we are, in the midst of summer. This is the season for relaxing: school’s out, seasonal jobs are winding down, and the days are getting longer, with more and more sunlight kissing our evenings. It’s the time of year for lying in the hammock, smelling the freshly-cut grass, and sipping a cold beer over a long holiday weekend. Thus far, we’ve subjected virtual water principals to many foods you could eat, some of the clothes you wear, and the gasoline you put in your car. So, in honor of these balmy days of summer, today I’m going to look at what you drink, to see how much of a virtual water impact various alcoholic drinks have.
So, let’s start with the unofficial drink of summer: beer. Obviously, every brand of beer is different. Plus, you’re going to have a different impact from different kinds of beers. A pilsner is not a stout is not an IPA is not a cider, etc. If you want to know the specific footprint of your favorite beer, you might have to do a bit of research, but generally speaking, a beer is going to run around 74 liters or up to 100 liters of water for just one glass.
But what about a nice glass of wine with dinner? Well, like beer, you’re going to see some variance depending on what sort of wine you’re drinking. Even for more water-efficient vintages, however, wine will use as much as 900 times as much water as wine produced. In other words, a liter of wine uses 900 liters of water.
Let’s imagine, just for a moment, that you’re not enjoying a leisurely drink during a relaxing afternoon. Maybe, you just feel like drinking (shocking, I know.) Let’s say you just want to get drunk, and you’re breaking out the hard stuff. How does that impact your virtual water footprint? It actually uses even more water: again, there’s a vast variance between the different kinds of alochols, but beer is, generally speaking, the most water-smart. Add in mix-ins, and your virtual water use in a hard drink can really skyrocket.
We’re not here, of course, to give personal advice on drinking. An occasional beer won’t decimate our whole water-conservation movement. That said, keeping your drinking to a moderation will make a major impact in your water use. Next time you’re thirsty, maybe just enjoy a cup of water.