New smartphone? That'll be 13 tonnes of water

Using a phone, espresso

Eighteen square metres of land and nearly 13 tonnes of water go into making a smartphone, with two-fifths of that water impact a result of pollution during manufacturing and assembly.

That's the estimate revealed by Friends of the Earth in a new report on the environmental cost of producing everyday goods.

The research also estimated that Kraft's range of chocolate products require an area of land the size of Belgium over the course of one year, while one pair of leather boots requires at least 14.5 tonnes of water – the figure rising to 25 tonnes when leather tanneries dump untreated chemicals into the environment.

Called Mind Your Step, the report also looks at the land and water footprints of other products we use everyday, such as coffee, chicken curry ready-meals and T-shirts, taking into account the impact of mining minerals and metals and water pollution from electronics factories.

"The snug fit of that phone in your pocket or the crumpled heap of boots in the corner masks the breathtaking amounts of land and water required to make our favourite products," says Friends of the Earth's Resource Use Campaigner Julian Kirby.

"In an increasingly populous and environmentally stressed world, it's more important than ever that companies measure their resource use – for their own sakes as well as the environment's.

"The good news is that armed with land and water footprint information, companies can redesign their products and business models, to save cash and tread more lightly on the Earth."

Mind Your Step, available to download from the Friends of the Earth website, is based on modelling by environmental data company Trucost.

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