As a marketer, you may never have thought to ask yourself this question, but you should.
It takes 30 gallons of water to produce a single slice of bread, 10 gallons to produce a gallon of gasoline and, according to a recent New York Times article, many of our most promising clean-energy solutions, from solar farms to biofuel refineries to cleaner coal plants, would require several billion gallons more each year.
Today, while flooding, drought, climate change and an aging water infrastructure set us on a path toward worldwide water crisis, water is more valuable than ever.
But the question on the minds of marketers should not be the value of water, but rather, the cost.
For marketers who wait to make water a focus of their social responsibility campaigns, the cost of water could be their client or company's hard-earned reputation.
Water has turned the green movement on its head. Some of our most iconic "green" industries --- agriculture and clean energy --- have emerged as the biggest environmental offenders for their wasteful water practices. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency named agriculture the single largest contributor to water pollution in the U.S.
Former president Bill Clinton said on "The Late Show with David Letterman," "In 20 years, we'll have more fighting over water than there ever was over oil." The war on water has already begun in many parts of the U.S. As Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar pointed out in a February Wall Street Journal editorial, crippling drought in California's Central Valley has pitted farmers against environmentalists, with local government caught in the crossfire. But as tensions over water reach a steady boil, so do opportunities for marketers to get in front of the water crisis by encouraging their clients or company to adopt sustainable water practices and use them to gain a competitive edge.
A recent survey conducted by AlwaysOn and KPMG found that water is expected to receive more venture capital investment over the next two years than alternative fuels, green building materials, wind or clean coal.
Some of our country's most trusted investors, including Vinod Khosla and Kleiner Perkins, have begun to put their weight behind water. Media are catching the wave, too, with the New York Times' "Toxic Waters" series serving as a prime example.
It is easier than ever for companies to change their water habits. By launching company-wide conservation initiatives and using new affordable water purification and recycling appliances, some of our most recognizable brands have been able to reduce their water footprint by 80% to 90%, all the while scaling back energy costs and safeguarding their businesses against future water challenges. A major coffee retailer saved 6 million gallons of drinking water by turning off faucets that had previously been running continuously. Similarly, a major shopping chain was able to cut water usage by 30% across 70 locations by installing water-saving toilets.
Adam Bluestein of Inc. magazine had it right when he said, "Blue is the new green." As green marketers, we should not stand back and watch water unravel the reputations of social responsibility we have build with our clients/companies , but rather, encourage them to find their place at the forefront of sustainability's future --- the blue movement.