Infographic: Water Footprint of Valentine’s Day

Ever wonder how much water goes into your wine and chocolate? Our Codi Yeager-Kozacek does the research for you.

Circle of Blue Twitter Valentine's Day Fact infographic gallons of virtual water footprint

For our official Circle of Blue Twitter account, I’m responsible for tweeting stories from Africa, Europe, and South America at 10 a.m., 4 p.m., and 10 p.m. Eastern time every Monday through Friday. Part of the reason for this is because the beats that I’m interested in and tend write about come from these parts of the world.

A daily regimen of looking for and tweeting out stories helps me to better spot trends and figure out what story I’d like to research next.

Circle of Blue Twitter Valentine's Day Fact National Geographic gallons of virtual water footprint chocolate bar West Africa Cote d'Ivoire Ivory Coast Ghana Nigeria, Cameroon

Image courtesy of Circle of Blue’s Twitter
It takes 1,700 liters (450 gallons) of water — or enough to fill 10 bathtubs — to make one chocolate bar. And most of the ‘virtual water’ comes from West Africa, according to National Geographic. Click image to enlarge.

This happened on Thursday, when I came across an article on the National Geographic news site that contained an astounding fact: it takes as much as 10 bathtubs full of water to make a single chocolate bar.

“Most of those gallons are consumed by the cocoa plants in the field… [because] it’s the water needed for plant growth that typically accounts for the biggest portion of that item’s water footprint… The West African nation of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is the world’s largest cocoa producer, and its neighbors Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon rank high, as well. In fact, more than half of the water consumed to produce chocolates eaten in the United States comes from rain falling in West Africa.”
–Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project and Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society

As my colleague Keith Schneider wrote last month, “the trade in energy and agricultural products — the largest users of water — involves producing countries using their waters and consuming countries saving their waters. Researchers call this swap a trade of ‘virtual water,’ or the supplies used to grow, produce, or manufacture other goods.”

The NatGeo story got me thinking about how much water might go into some of the other staple Valentine’s Day indulgences like roses, wine, and diamonds. My colleague Kaye LaFond, Circle of Blue’s data guru, and I made this infographic, and we hope you enjoy it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Infographic Graphic virtual water footprint Valentine's Day gallons liters dozen roses glass of wine diamond ring chocolate bar Circle of Blue Codi Yeager Kozacek Kaye LaFond

Image © Codi Yeager-Kozacek and Kaye LaFond / Circle of Blue
Infographic: It takes more water — 600 liters (160 gallons) more — to make a 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of chocolate than to make a one-carat diamond. The best option for Valentine’s Day giving if you want to save water is a glass of wine, which takes only 110 liters (29 gallons) to make. Click image to enlarge.

What kinds of gifts do you usually give or receive on Valentine’s Day? Were you surprised at the hidden ‘virtual water’ cost of these items? Will it influence your purchasing choices next year? We want to hear from you. Contact Codi Yeager

–Codi Kozacek,
Circle of Blue Reporter

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