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Humanity’s Water Footprint (Introduction)

SUBJECTS Geography/History, Language Arts, Social Studies
GRADE LEVEL Junior (4-6) / Intermediate (7-8) / Senior (9-12)
PLEDGE 1 - Protection of Water

Resources Needed:

  1. Quote by Professor Arjen Hoekstra from Your Water Footprint by Stephen Leahy
  2. Water footprint definition: The amount of direct (water used at home) and indirect/hidden/virtual (water used to produce the goods and services we consume) freshwater we use.
    • Direct water examples: water used for drinking, bathing, cooking, toilet, etc.
    • Indirect/hidden/virtual water examples: water used to make the clothes we wear, to produce the food we eat, the things we use, etc.


  1. Write the words water footprint on the board and ask students to discuss what is meant by water footprint with a partner or in a small group. Take up as a class.
  2. Ask students, Consider your own water footprint. Which actions, positive and negative, do you think have the greatest impact on your water footprint? Allow students to share their ideas.


  1. Share the quote by Professor Arjen Hoekstra and have students read it on their own or as a group.
  2. Have students share their reactions with a partner or in a small group. Use the following questions to help guide their discussions:
    • Professor Hoekstra states that, “…it is crucial to consider what you buy as well.” What do you think he means by this?
    • The vast majority of our water footprint comes from our actions outside of the home. In what ways do you think the areas of food, natural fibres, oils and energy, contribute to our water footprint? 
    • Discuss some easy to implement changes you could begin taking today that will decrease your water footprint outside of the home.

Follow Up Activities:

  1. As a class, create a list of actions students can take outside of the home that will have a positive impact on our water footprint. Display on a bulletin board to raise awareness with the rest of the school.
  2. Have students commit to three actions that they can undertake that will improve their water footprint outside of the home. Revisit the pledges after a few weeks.