Get Shelter

Please visit or contact any of the following to inquire about shelter availability:

Get Services

Before accessing services for the first time, please check-in at the Joan Kroc Center.

Water Footprint

Are you good at picturing stuff in your mind?

Try this: Imagine a one-gallon jug of water sitting on your kitchen counter. Got it?

Now picture 718 of them.

Unless you have a super-ginormous kitchen, there’s not nearly enough room on your counter to hold that many gallons.

Why 718?

That’s the number of gallons used in the manufacturing of just one new cotton T-shirt. More precisely, it’s 718.5 gallons, or 2,720 liters.

That’s an awful lot of water to use for one T-shirt. So what’s the deal?

Freshwater isn’t just for drinking, bathing, cleaning, and watering your plants. It’s used in the manufacturing of probably any product you can think of.

The problem? Freshwater is an extremely rare resource that makes up less than 3% of the total water found on Earth, and only a third of that is available for human consumption.

According to the World Wildlife Fund , if we continue to consume freshwater at the current rate, two-thirds of the world’s population might face water shortages as soon as 2025.

Freshwater is used in the production of everything from cotton products to items made of paper, plastic, wood, and metal (see table below). Of course, saline (salt) water also is used in some industrial applications, but, as of 2015, about 84% of all water used in the United States was freshwater, thus creating the most significant water footprint.

What is a water footprint?

Simply put, a water footprint is the amount of water used to produce goods and services. While agriculture consumes more freshwater than any other source, manufactured products leave significant footprints. Here are a few examples:

T-shirt 718/2,720
Pair of jeans 2,866/10,850
Pair of leather shoes 2,113/8,000
Smartphone 3,371/12,760
Bed sheet 2,576/9,750
Sheet of paper 0.5–3/2–13
Plastic water bottle 1.4/5.3
Computer 400/1,514
Chocolate bar 898/3,400
Pizza 333/1,259
Car 13,737–21,926/52,000–83,000


What can you do to reduce your own water footprint?

While the average water footprint of a person in the United States is 1,802 gallons (6,821 liters) per day, as an individual, you can do only so much to reduce your own water footprint as companies and governments step up to do their part. Even so, here are a few easy ways:

Where can you learn more?

As you can see, there’s a lot more that goes into making your T-shirt—and every other type of product—than you might have thought. Water’s role in the production of these products significantly impacts the environment, but we can all do more to reduce our own water footprint and encourage governments and corporations to reduce theirs.

To learn more, read through some of the 200-plus publications cited on the Water Footprint Network’s website. In the meantime, drop by Father Joe’s Villages’ online store to see the latest deals on pre-owned designer-brand clothing, handbags, shoes, collectibles, jewelry, and more. Not only will buying some of those products help reduce your personal water footprint, but all proceeds support Father Joe’s mission to end homelessness in San Diego.