It’s time to come clean: I’ve developed a pretty serious caffeine addiction.  It all started back in high school, when I’d make a hot cup of tea whenever I had a cold or sore throat.  Eventually, the hot tea on occasional mornings became hot tea every morning, then hot tea every morning and every day with dinner, plus the iced tea with lunch… Yikes. Summer’s a time for vacationing.  Yes, that can mean sleeping in and relaxing, but it can also mean long road trips, early mornings to catch a flight, late nights out, and I know you’re going to be going for the energy boost.  So, today, I’m going to take a look at some caffeine-infused products, and their virtual water impact.

There are about 100 million daily coffee drinkers in the USA, and that’s not counting the irregular coffee-enjoyers who only sometimes have a cup.   So how much virtual water does coffee use?  About 37 gallons per cup.   Comparatively, my vice, tea, sounds positively refreshing at 27 liters (roughly 7 gallons).

Another huge source of caffeine is soda.  As a processed food (as opposed to more natural teas and coffees), soda has a major virtual water footprint. And let’s not even talk about the water used to produce the plastic bottle the soda comes in – we already touched on that in a previous blog post.  While it can vary depending on what kind of soda you prefer, you can generally expect to consume up to 132 gallons of water in a two liter bottle of soda.   You may as well drink four cups of coffee with that kind of impact.

If you’re inclined to lean more toward the big boost you get from energy drinks or pills or supplements, you’re in for a bit of a mystery.  This can vary wildly, depending on what you’re consuming, but as a general rule, the more processed an item is, the more virtual water it’s going to contain.  When trying to choose a product with a low virtual water impact, aim for products that are natural, products with fewer ingredients (especially less sugar), and products that are made locally, to avoid the wasteful gasoline used in transportation.

Of course, there are other options, besides consuming caffeine for energy.  Have you considered going for a nice long walk or a short jog?  Excersizing can give you an energy boost without any virtual water consumption.  Heck, even if you work up a sweat and need to hop in the shower, you’ll probably still use less water than that cup of coffee.

So, happy vacationing, have a great time, stay fresh, and keep on conserving!