The Water Footprint of Products

The Virtual Water Project would like to show the world how much freshwater is used to produce selected products— hoping for people to rethink their consumption patterns.

The Poster (v2)

Second edition, DIN A0 format (841 × 1189 mm),
single-sided 2-color print, (black / cyan) on matte paper

The poster shows the amount of water consumed in the production of everyday food products.
Based on the study by Hoeckstra et al. in their study Water Footprint of Nations, German designer Timm Kekeritz created the design in 2007.

The App

iPhone App: Interactive Infographics

The app is not available any more, but you can watch a video recording here.

Carry the Virtual Water digital companion anywhere and grow more concious about how much water our everyday food and beverages really consume.
The Virtual Water app offers a broader range of products than the printed edition—plus full interactivity. Use the slider to adjust the amount of each product. swipe to navigate and compare products. Flip to get quick facts. The app supports the metric as well as the US customary system.

The Virtual Water Project

Water is probably one of the most precious resources and vital for everyone’s everyday life. Despite this obvious fact, people use large amounts of water: drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, and almost every other physical product.

One of the most important research papers in this field is Chapagain, A.K. and Hoekstra, A.Y. (2004), »Water footprints of nations«, Value of Water Research Report Series No. 16, UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands.
Designer Timm Kekeritz created a set of infographics, visualizing parts of their research data, to make the issue of virtual water and the water footprint perceptible.

The water footprint of a person, company or nation is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the commodities, goods and services consumed by the person, company or nation.
The idea of the water footprint is quite similar to the ecological footprint, but focussing on the use of water. Thanks to Galina Miklosic, our project website is now also available in Belorussian. Further the iPhone app is available in Italian.


The Theory

[excerpt from]
Virtual water content: The virtual-water content of a product (a commodity, good or service) is the volume of freshwater used to produce the product, measured at the place where the product was actually produced (production-site definition). It refers to the sum of the water use in the various steps of the production chain. The virtual-water content of a product can also be defined as the volume of water that would have been required to produce the product at the place where the product is consumed (consumption-site definition). We recommend to use the production-site definition and to mention it explicitly when the consumption-site definition is used. The adjective ‘virtual’ refers to the fact that most of the water used to produce a product is not contained in the product. The real-water content of products is generally negligible if compared to the virtual-water content. [Read more at]

The Design

Based on the data gathered by Hoeckstra et al., German designer Timm Kekeritz of Raureif created the concise infographic design in cyan and black. In collaboration with his colleague Frank Rausch of Raureif the Virtual Water iOS app was created in 2010.

The design is minimalistic, using silhouettes and elegant typography only, featuring the elegant typefaces TheSans and TheSerif by Luc(as) de Groot.

The Virtual Water Project has been initiated by the lecture »Water for life« in the summer of 2007 at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam in Germany. The design process has been guided by Prof. Dr. Frank Heidmann and Prof. Nils Krüger.

The design became popular world-wide and has been published by newspapers, magazines, websites and blogs around the globe.

The Poster, First Edition

The first edition (2007)
Double-sided poster, A0 (1189 × 841 mm), 150 g/m² paper, two color (cyan, black) offset print plus partial shiny finish. One side visualizes the water footprint of selected nations, emphasizing the im- and export of virtual water. The other side shows the virtual water content of selected foods and commodities.

Please note: The original prints of the first edition of the poster are sold out.

Publications, Awards, Exhibitions

SEED Magazine 14 (January 2008)
The artwork within an article about Virtual Water in the latest issue of the »SEED« magazine (USA) is based on the Virtual Water Poster. Unfortunately the article isn't available online. (take a look at the little preview at or the pictures below)

A two-page article about the Virtual Water Poster in the Japanese design magazine WEB DESIGNING within the column »Design makes the world move forward« by Yoshihiro Kanematsu from Whynotnotice inc. The article is available in Japanese only.

PAGE Magazine 04.2008
A small half-pages article about the Virtual Water Poster in the German design magazine PAGE. Sorry, the article is not available online.

La Repubblica delle Donne n° 591
A small mention of the project in the women's magazine D of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Sorry, the article is only available in Italian (on page 38).

Greenpeace Magazin Germany 3.08
A two-page article on Virtual Water and the Water Footprint can be found in the latest issue of the German Greenpeace Magazin. The artwork is based on the Virtual Water Poster and for the first time in German language. Unfortunately the article isn't available online.

IdN Magazine v15n4
A three-page interview on infographics with Timm Kekeritz, illustrated by his Virtual Water Project, can be found in the Hong Kong based design magazine IdN, issue v15n4. Check IdN’s blog for the first paragraph of the article. You can order a copy of the issue here: IdN World v15n4

Data Flow, Gestalten Verlag
The Virtual Water Project is featured on three pages in the new book on Visualizing Information, Data Flow, by R. Klanten, N. Bourquin, S. Ehmann, F. van Heerden, published in Berlin by Gestalten Verlag.


Awarded honorable mention, ECO-VIS Challenge 2007
The jurors at Eyebeam (New York City) made their decision based on clarity of thought, design, concept, and execution. Read more about it at

Exhibition Feedback at EYEBEAM, New York City
The Virtual Water Poster was part of the Feedback exhibition at EYEBEAM in New York City, March 13 - April 19, 2008.