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The everything of water

Water in Australia

The everything of water

Q: What is water?

A: Everything.

In recent years, a research area called embodied water has been developed. It’s a way of demonstrating how much water was used in the making of objects of daily life, from the screen you are reading this on to the lunch you are contemplating having. In his book Virtual Water, Tony Allan estimates that a breakfast consisting of espresso, eggs, bacon and toast, fruit and milk has used 1100 litres, or about three bathtubs, on its way to your plate.  The cotton shirt and jeans you’ve thrown on account for at least another 10 000 litres, and the car you’re about to start to rush to your meeting is an average of 67.5 cubic metres (67500L) of water?[1] So before you’ve even left the house, you are wrapped in the residue of 78 600 litres of water.

That’s one way of demonstrating how entwined water is with our existence, likely to appeal most to the mathematically inclined. If you’re visually inclined, this image will be more appropriate.

 

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People and the Environment

Water in Australia is part of the National Museum's People and the Environment program. Discover more stories about people's relationships with Australia's natural and built environments on our People and the Environment website.