The figures come from a new Friends of the Earth report which estimates how much land and water are used in the production of everyday goods. Read the full report here.

Producing a single cup of coffee requires 136 litres of water – more than five times the amount needed to produce a cup of tea. The difference is mainly due to the quantities of water needed to grow the crops, but coffee’s footprint also includes the water used to soak the beans in order to remove a gelatinous outer layer.

Hidden impact

The report also revealed that the production of a single smartphone requires nearly 13 tonnes of water and 18 square metres of land.

A pair of leather boots requires 14.5 tonnes of water, while Kraft Foods is estimated to require an area the size of Belgium to make its range of chocolate products.

Friends of the Earth’s resource use campaigner Julian Kirby said: “The snug fit of that phone in your pocket or the crumpled heap of boots in the corner masks the breathtaking amounts of land and water required to make our favourite products.

“In an increasingly populous and environmentally stressed world, it’s more important than ever that companies measure their resource use – for their own sakes as well as the environment’s.

“The good news is that armed with land and water footprint information, companies can redesign their products and business models, to save cash and tread more lightly on the Earth.”

Resource scarcity

The Friends of the Earth campaign echoes circular economy group The Great Recovery, who recently called for companies to design sustainability into products in the first place.

Friends of the Earth is also urging the incoming Government to establish an Office of Resource Management to review and ultimately reduce the UK’s dependence on natural resources.

Read the full report here.

Brad Allen

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