We all know that water is critical to life on earth. But did you know that only 3% of all water on the planet is fresh water? Most of the planet’s water is in our oceans. Water supplies are getting more and more limited as population and water demand grow. You might be surprised to hear that farming uses 70% of all the fresh water used globally.
We’ve taken a look at our water “footprint.” Much like how a carbon footprint can help you understand where your global-warming impacts are, a water footprint can help you understand where and how you are using water.
This is roughly what our water footprint looks like:
At our yogurt factory, we use about 160,000 gallons of water every day, mostly for cleaning equipment. We know that’s a lot of water. It will take the average person 15–20 years of toilet flushing to use the water that we use in one day! We must do better—so we’ll tell you a little bit about what we’re doing to conserve water:
In our plant, we reuse wash waters in multiple cycles—but of course only in a way that is good for food safety and provides effective cleaning.
In our office building, we use low-flow water fixtures on our sinks and dual flush toilets that allow you to choose to use more or less water, depending on what you need to flush.
In our parking lot, we have a slab of “porous pavement” that allows water to seep in and recharge the groundwater, rather than run off into surface water.
We also teach our employees a general awareness of the importance of conserving water.
Our efforts have started to pay off. For each cup of yogurt we make, we discharged 17% less wastewater from our process in 2008 than we did in 2007. And the coolest thing about that is that it doesn’t really stop there: Conserving water means other savings as well. Since most of the water we use is hot water, when we use less water, it means we save energy, too. And because all of our water gets treated in our wastewater facility, it means lower treatment costs as well.
If you want to find out what happens to the water after we’re done with it in the factory, read about our wastewater treatment system.