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Measuring the Water Cost

Written by George Fisher

Image for article Measuring the Water Cost

Patagonia’s ‘Our Common Waters’ campaign finds a Lake District link

Each of us uses an Olympic-size poolful of water (2.5 million litres) a year. Much of this is our share of industrial production and consumption; the water used to make our stuff. So it’s important to keep an eye on what businesses do to meet the challenges of water scarcity and pollution. Patagonia aims to measure how much water goes into every product it makes, and to begin to reduce it.

Our Common Waters, Patagonia’s new campaign, is about balancing human water use with the needs of the environment. The more water we waste, the more habitat we destroy. The more we pollute our streams and lakes, the harder it is for animals and plants to survive.
No more is this true than in the English Lake District, where our beautiful waters are under threat from excessive nutrients (phosphates). Conservation charity Nurture Lakeland is working hard to raise awareness of how phosphates, which cause algal blooms, get into the lakes.

Ruth Kirk of Nurture Lakeland says, “Phosphate comes from a variety of sources including agriculture and sewage, but what we use to wash our clothes and dishes also has an impact on our lakes. We want to help people make the link between what they put down the plughole and what happens when it washes into the water.”

Phosphates are used in detergents to ‘soften’ the water but Cumbria is already a ‘soft’ water area. By switching to one of the phosphate-free products on the market you can help reduce the amount of nutrient entering the lakes.

Go to the Love Your Lakes website for more information including a downloadable fact-sheet with advice for lake users and a list of phosphate-free products you can buy:

To learn more and check out your own water footprint, go to: