Talking Point: Just a cup of coffee?
I took this photo in the water pavilion at the 2012 Floriade, a once a decade international horticultural festival that takes place in Holland. I thought a horticultural show would be a boring day out; I mean how much fun can you have checking out the latest flowers? But this was something else – a ‘Theatre of Nature’ – an enormous green park with five interconnected nature-zones to explore, each highlighting different ways nature plays a part in our everyday lives – for food, energy, materials, relaxation or pure inspiration.
Stopped by the coffee
In the end it wasn’t the plants, flowers, trees, vegetables or fruit that grabbed me, beautiful as they were, but this overflowing coffee cup. I stumbled across it while queuing with hundreds of others to grab a coffee. But the overflowing water and message on the cup made me think twice about the consequences of doing so. Apparently it takes 140 litres of water to make a cup of coffee. No, not to fill the cup and do the washing up but to grow, process and transport the beans. That’s 1,100 drops of water to make one drop of coffee.
And I might drink 3 or 4 cups of coffee in a day, especially if I’m having a bad one. Which is a lot of water being used just so I can chill out with coffee and cake; almost enough to quench someone’s thirst for a year. All of which got me thinking about whether I know enough about the environmental impact of the everyday things I do? And whether I am doing enough to teach my kids about them or to care about issues like the growing global water crisis?
Water crisis? What water crisis?
When it comes to water I found the National Geographic’s Freshwater initiative a good place to start finding out more about the issues. There’s some articles and quizzes to get you up to speed and test your knowledge, an interesting water footprint calculator and a fun Water Wiz game to get kids thinking about water use at home.
I totally lost the game but quickly discovered I leave some giant water footprints. The cotton T-shirts I recently bought the kids cost 2,700 litres of water each to produce, the little 250g bar of chocolate I bought Kirstie has a price tag of 6,000 litres, and the litre of wine I had my eye on for Friday night was going to set me back 1,004 litres.
And there was me worrying about leaving the tap on when I brush my teeth. It’s all good stuff though, a useful place to learn yourself, get the kids engaged with the issue and get some practical tips on ways to reduce your water footprint. The Brits amongst you will be pleased to learn a cup of tea has less than a quarter of the water footprint of a cup of coffee. So at least there’s a change that’s going to easy for me to make. Although convincing Kirstie may take some doing.
Do you think about the environmental costs and consequences of everyday actions? What do you to make yourself and your kids more aware of them?
Join the Conversation
Talking Point is our series of short Photo Friday posts. Each week we pick a photo and post a talking point and invite you to join the conversation. Do leave a comment with your thoughts.