With the upcoming Day Without Water on October 10, San Jose Water is really looking at the value of water in our lives. We use it every single day, whether it’s to drink, clean, or cook. But have you ever wondered what else we need water for?

Fun fact: water is a key ingredient in making almost everything we use, from our clothes to our phones to the fuel that goes in our cars. This is because water is involved in nearly every step of the manufacturing process. Take, for example, a plain cotton t-shirt. Cotton is a thirsty plant, so a lot of water goes into making sure the cotton plant is happy and healthy. After the cotton is harvested and taken to a factory, water is used to clean the cotton, cool the machinery, dye the shirts, and wash everything before it goes out to a store near you. In total, the entire t-shirt making process requires about 713 gallons of water; that’s enough for one person to drink for more than two years!

We also need water to mine metals and extract oil from the earth, making it a necessary ingredient in pretty much everything in the modern world. Here are some other everyday objects that require a surprising amount of water to make:

Item Water Needed
1 liter plastic water bottle (minus the water that goes inside!) 2 liters of water
1 gallon of gasoline 2.5 gallons of water
A sheet of paper 3 gallons
Cotton T-shirt 713 gallons
Jeans 2,108 gallons
Mobile phone (smart phone) 3,190 gallons
Leather Shoes 3,626 gallons

There are some very easy, fun changes that we can all make to our daily routines that will collectively make a huge impact. Some examples include:


  1. Reduce, reuse, recycle: This familiar old saying still holds true today. Making new stuff takes a lot of water; by buying less new stuff, we use less water.
  2. Thrift shopping: We all love changing up our wardrobe, but clothing takes a lot of water to make. Thrift stores are a great way to find clothes that are new to you, but not to the planet.
  3. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle): Bring your own reusable water bottle when you leave home for the day. You can fill it with fresh, clean water brought to you by San Jose Water and have water on-hand whenever you need it.


Let us know what you’re doing to save water! Tag #sjwater on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.