Water waste and environment

In my recent travel to Colombia, while visiting the bath in hotels, one detail always dragged my attention. It was a towel usage notes stuck on the wall. In one of the hotels they were claiming that they are worried about the environment and would plant a tree whenever we would use the towels 5 times without washing them.
Interesting, no? It seems cool at first, but thinking it further, my mind only tells me that they just came up with a funky reason not to wash the towels.

All these hotels had restaurants, some of them serving breakfast, lunch and dinner too. As a vegetarian transitioning to vegan, I had a real trouble getting any food at all. Spent all my mornings eating oats with soy milk (was very happy that this was a choice). Everything else contained meat (more than 90% of the menu) or cheese and eggs.
This made me think if the hotels really had intention of trying to reduce the waste of water and save the environment. Maybe I should suggest them to add another sign at the lunch lobby, that would be more efficient.

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I have no source on how much water is wasted for washing a towel (I’ll find one later found), but I remember how much is spent on producing meat (thanks peta). If my calculations are correct (fuck you imperial system), we waste a bit more than 20 tons of water for producing each 1 kilo of meat. You got that right? 1 kg meat = 20500 liters of water.

So lets do the math now. I’m sure that the people at the hotel eat more than these amounts, but these calculations are for the “normal” or “average” servings.

If the main substance of the dish is meat, it is usually around 200-300 grams meat. If you, for example, eat pasta, then it is less (100-150 grams) meat.

The ones who had mainly meat based dish, wasted 4000 to 6000 liters of water. The ones who had the option with less meat, spent only around 2500 liters of water. For one meal, ok?

I’m sure that the big towels in my hotel don’t weight more than 500 grams, but even if they are 1 kg in weight, we would waste something under 23 liters of water.

If you reuse your towel, you would save 12 liters of water. If you skip your meat dish, you’ll save 5000 liters of water.

Not washing your towel, slight risk of bacteria development on it, that you would spread to your body. Not skipping meat dish, slight risk of bacteria development in your gut that would cause toxins and potential harm :)

Wanna save water? Put some signs in the canteen as well. Why don’t you plant a tree for every person that skips filling his dish with ham and cheese? The world would be a much better place, I guarantee it.

 

Edit: Here are some nice sources for more information about water waste and diary industry: http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/ – scroll a bit down for – Water – part.

Edit 2: Thanks to Spion, more interesting sources added + also some clarification that chicken meat costs 1/3 water of the beef (but that’s still a lot):
http://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Mekonnen-Hoekstra-2012-WaterFootprintFarmAnimalProducts.pdf

http://graphics.latimes.com/food-water-footprint/

 

 

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