About the Water Footprint Calculator
To raise awareness about how people in the United States use water throughout their day, GRACE Communications Foundation (GRACE) – a non-profit dedicated to creating a more sustainable food system – developed its Water Footprint Calculator. The free tool illustrates how everyday actions – from washing dishes to watering the lawn to buying groceries – impact water use.
Our virtual water use – the water it takes to grow our food, make electricity and manufacture home goods – is by far the biggest part of our water footprint, and, as users quickly find out, our diet accounts for most of it. Sustainable Table, a program of GRACE, illustrates the many impacts that food and agriculture have not only water, but on other aspects of our environment as well as our communities. Sustainable Table provides information on reducing our impacts by supporting sustainable agriculture by offering issue pages, tools tips and blog posts.
How the Water Footprint Calculator Works
Through a series of simple questions about daily routines, this innovative and engaging calculator accounts for not only the water we use from the tap, but also the water it takes to produce the food we eat, the energy we use and the products we buy. Created with a dynamic and adaptive interface, the calculator functions seamlessly on mobile, tablets and desktop computers. Other features include customized results, interactive graphics and the ability for users to change their answers and “play” with their results.
As part of the package, links to over 100 water-saving tips are offered to help users lower their water footprint. (One of the best ways to shrink your water footprint: Eat less meat and choose pasture-raised meat to support farmers who don’t rely largely on feed grains irrigated with limited groundwater or surface water supplies.)
Technical questions about the calculator can be answered with a detailed 30-page methodology.
Awards and Recognition
Nationwide, hundreds of thousands of users have calculated their water footprint. Students and educators at the middle school, high school and university levels have all taken advantage of the tool. It was used in the international Project Green Challenge; it also caught the attention of municipalities around the country, including the Save the Drop LA water conservation campaign. The calculator was recognized with a 2017 Webby nomination, a 2016 EPA Environmental Champion Award, Graphic Design USA’s 2015 American Graphic Design Award and was featured as part of the 2016 White House Water Summit. It is also the only online Spanish-language water footprint calculator focused on a US audience.
The daily choices we make to waste less water today, whether directly through the tap or virtually through our food, energy and shopping habits, can help us make sure that there’s enough for all of us now and in the future.