03/16/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

1 Latte = 53 Gallons Of Water

What a week for water awareness. First it's Twitter and Beck, and now it's the coffee on your desk. Everything we do has a big water footprint (think carbon footprint), but we rarely think about that... yet.

Brian Merchant over at Planet Green pondered the subject of how much water is used in the production of your morning latte:

It's just a little coffee, after all. Well, and some water. And milk, and sugar. That sugar, doesn't that have to be grown as cane first? Hm. And then there's that plastic lid, which has to be created and distributed over hundreds of miles. And doesn't plastic require a pretty vast amount of water and oil to produce? Come to think of it, there's the sleeve and the cup itself too . . .

It keeps adding up, doesn't it? It does--it keeps adding up until it reaches a grand total of nearly 53 gallons. 53 gallons. For every single little latte that gets drank in a to-go cup. For every single latte-sipping person in the world. See where I'm going with this?

That's not to say everybody should stop drinking coffee -- it's just a good, easy thing to understand to get people thinking about water and its role in all of our lives. (You can start reducing that footprint right away by carrying a reusable mug and asking your coffee shop to fill it up instead of their disposable cups. They'll do it -- I've seen it!)