November 11, 2019

Water: a precious resource

Switzerland, also known as the “water tower of Europe”, has an abundance of water sources. Yet the world’s fresh water supplies are limited, and Switzerland will probably face water shortages eventually.

According to the Swiss Gas and Water Industry Association (SVGW/SSIGE), daily consumption per inhabitant is 142L on average. 50% of this is used for showers, baths and toilets.

Most of global water consumption is known as “virtual” (i.e. invisible to us): this is the water used to produce our food, clothing and in manufacturing in general.
Livestock, for example, need to drink water and consume cereals and fodder; both of these need water to grow. It takes 15,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of beef, 3000 litres to grow 1 kg of rice and 55 litres for 1 kg of tomatoes.

An easy way to reduce your water consumption is to favor seasonal fruits and vegetables while cutting down on meat and dairy.
NB: Every litre of water saved is a litre that is not going to pollute groundwater and does not need to be treated again.

These savings must be understood at a world scale. Most of the virtual water we consume locally pollutes other countries. This polluted water poisons both local populations and end consumers as it gets reintroduced into food production.

Some ideas for saving water locally: (13 best ways to save water (
  • Shower rather than bathing, and reduce water usage: Every minute you spend in a power shower uses up to 17 litres of water . Set a timer on your phone to keep your showers short, sweet and water-saving. (You can apply this tip everywhere: when camping, at swimming pools,...).
  • Turn off the taps while brushing your teeth, washing your hands or doing the dishes.
  • While running the shower to warm the water, collect the shower water in a bucket. You can reuse it to water plants or flush your toilet.
  • Save up your dirty clothes and use the fast cycle: Washing a full machine load of clothes uses less water and energy than 2 half-loads.
  • You can water your flowers and garden with rain water or with the water you used to rinse your vegetables.
  • Get a low-flush toilet: Modern dual-flush systems save huge amounts of water. They use just 6 litres – or 4 with a reduced flush – much less than the 13 litres for each old-style single flush.
  • No more washing up: Got a dishwasher? Fill it up completely each time you run it and you'll use less water than you would doing the dishes by hand.
  • If doing the dishes by hand, use one of the larger dishes needing washing (such as a pan or salad bowl) to hold the water, instead of filling the whole sink.
  • Keep an eye on your plumbing: Regularly check your kitchen pipes and the dishwasher hose for slow leaks.

  • To go further: