Resource downloads

Hidden water

Everything you own and touch has a hidden water footprint.

Hidden water calculator

Nope, we’re not on about water hiding from you but rather your indirect water footprint! Hidden water is everywhere. whether it’s the salad on your plate, the phone in your pocket, the petrol from your bus journey or the t-shirt you’re wearing right now!

By indirect water footprint, we mean the water taken from the natural environment like lakes and rivers to produce something – think things like watering the crops, manufacturing stuff and making energy.

If you’re not entirely sure why a hidden footprint matters, don’t worry – it’s pretty confusing to get your head around! But go on over to our Mighty but Limited resources. Here, we learn that just 1% of the worlds water is available to support all of us (as the rest is trapped in oceans and glaciers!) It’s causing issues – nearly half of all humans on earth are in potentially ‘high water stress’ areas meaning there might not actually be enough to go around in the future.

Here’s some eye-opening hidden water footprints:


Meat has a huge hidden water footprint. Think about it – we must keep livestock hydrated and grow the crops to feed livestock which also uses water. In fact, the consumption of animal products contributes to more than a quarter of humanities water footprint! Why not try a meat free Monday instead?


Energy plants (nuclear and fossil fuel-fired plants) use a lot, lot LOT of water! Seriously a lot. Many rely on cooling technology which draws millions of gallons of water in daily. Interestingly, renewable energy sources require much less water. So let’s all make sure to reduce our energy use!


Did you know that often, it uses twice as much water to make a plastic bottle than the water it can hold?!


It takes nearly 3,000 litres of water to make just one cotton t-shirt – yikes! And the process of growing cotton is normally very, very polluting to our waterways. You can help by reducing your clothing purchases and maybe even buying second hand!

And it doesn’t stop there…

Manufacturing (think of your mobile phone or laptop!) uses huge amounts of water to produce. As does pretty much anything in your home right now.

Finished? Shocked? We bet! Head to our water saving tips, or take the water saving pledge

The learning blog