How much water do you really need?

Could you make do with just one gallon of water a day?

The Los Angeles-based nonprofit DIGDEEP Water wanted to find out, so last year they challenged Americans to use just four liters — about one gallon — of water a day, instead of the roughly 80 to 100 gallons a day used by the average person. The aim was to raise awareness about water poverty around the world, and raise money for water projects in the process.

Participants found the experiment — called the 4Liter Challenge — well, challenging. It meant brushing teeth without rinsing; using a lot of hand sanitizer and baby wipes; sinks filled with unwashed dishes, and no 20-minute showers (in fact, for most it meant no showers at all. One participant, Kirsty, tweeted “Day 2. #showers are now a luxury.”). 


One of the participants drove home a very good point: “Really leaning on modern conveniences like sanitizer and baby wipes. Can’t fathom living on 4L w/o them.” Yet consider that “1 in 10 people lacks sufficient access to water; 1 in 3 people lacks sufficient access to sanitation; and 1.5 million children a year die from a lack of clean water and safe sanitation every year,”  according to the nonprofit humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger

It’s something to think about the next time you cook, clean, bathe or drink. Maybe it will inspire us all to use a little less and conserve a little more.

If you’d like to take part in this year’s challenge, or just learn more, visit the 4 Liters webpage.  

To learn more about how much water we Americans use — and waste — every day, visit the EPA partnership page Water Sense.

And finally, if you’d like to calculate your own water footprint, head over to this page from National Geographic.  We’d be interested to hear your results, so please let us know on our Facebook page.