Consumers can now measure the water consumption of the food they buy with a ‘water footprint’ calculator, a sustainability company has announced.

Sustain’s food calculator comes in the form of a download from the company’s website. Once consumers have registered for the download, they can use the calculator to work out the amount of water consumption required to bring a typical meal to their table.

The company said that unlike other water calculators, its method took into account the weight of the food item and its origin: whether UK or global. The calculator was launched as part of today’s World Water Day initiative.

“Our calculator allows consumers to determine the water footprint of a Sunday roast dinner, or a portion of meat lasagne, and takes into account the ingredients’ country of origin,” said Craig Jones, Sustain’s principal associate (above). “By doing so, the calculator will help people see where they can make changes to their diet – and weekly shop – to decrease their water footprint easily and effectively.”

Sustain said that a lunch consisting of a cheese salad sandwich, 500ml bottle of cola and 40g bag of crisps could have a water footprint of 756 litres of water. It said that average household water use in the UK is around 150 litres per person per day; however, this could rise to the astonishing figure of 4,645 litres of water consumed by each English citizen every day, if consumption of goods from other countries was factored in.

“Our aim is to make the term ‘water footprint’ as well known and as well understood as the term ‘carbon footprint’, and at the same time raise awareness of this vital issue so that UK residents can reduce their water footprint as quickly and as simply as possible,” said Jones.

Environment Agency analysis has shown that in 2012 the UK experienced drought one in every four days and could experience a severe short-term drought every 10 years, Sustain said.