785 million people in the world don’t have access to clean water.
That is 1 in 9 people, according to WATER.ORG. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries with water scarcity and two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water stressed conditions.
The fashion industry is a major contributor to the world’s water crisis.
The growing of raw materials and the finishing / production processes in the textile industry is responsible for using high volumes of water. The water that is used to dye, finish and wash clothes contains hazardous chemicals that are being discharged into rivers and waterways during this production process. In all, 20% of industrial water pollution globally is attributable to the dyeing and treatment of textiles, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. We will get more into this water pollution in a later blog post.
Did you know that it takes 700 gallons of water to produce one cotton shirt?
That is enough water for one person to drink at least 8 cups per day for 3 1/2 years! (Interesting fact: It takes 2,000 gallons of water to produce a pair of jeans. That’s enough water for one person to drink 8 cups per day for 10 years!).
Cotton is one of the thirstiest fibers in fashion.
Reliance on chemicals in the cotton production process is linked to high rates of water use – with up to one fifth of water use related to diluting chemicals according to the Soil Association. According to WRAP, cotton production accounts for 69% of the water footprint of fiber production for textiles. One kilogram of cotton – equivalent to the weight of a shirt and pair of jeans – can take as much as 2,640-5,280 gallons to produce, depending on where in the world it is grown.
When buying cotton products, take care to look at the label and check that it is 100% organic cotton with ‘GOTS’ certification (Global Organic Textile Standard). That is cotton that does not use genetically modified seeds and no toxic chemicals used in the organic farming process, which is better for the soil too and uses less water.
Water use in textile production has created many environmental issues, such as the Aral Sea, formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world, has almost entirely dried up, in large part due to intensive industrial cotton farming in Uzbekistan. It is now called the Aralkum Desert. This is an ecological, economic and social disaster.
Certain fibers require less water usage therefore creating less of an impact on our soil and on our environment. Hemp is a great option. It comes from the Sativa plant, which also is used for cannabis. It is one of the fastest growing plants in the world as it takes only 3-4 months to reach maturity. A single hemp plant yields 220% more fiber than a cotton plant! It needs very little water to grow and it is naturally pest resistant. One of the best things about hemp is that it is actually beneficial to the soil protecting it from toxins and erosion.
TENTREE is a lifestyle apparel company that uses hemp. They also give back to the environment by planting 10 trees for every item purchased! The brand uses eco-friendly materials and uses renewable energy in its supply chain to help reduce its climate impact.
A person can go about three weeks without food, but people cannot live more than 3 to 4 days without water.
Clean drinking water is a valuable resource that is diminishing in many parts of the world. It is up to the governments of each nation to actively protect water resources and apply the latest technologies to treat their drinking water and wastewater. They need to be environmentally conscious and not allow heavy pollution from industries or intensive agriculture. Achieving great water quality is not an easy task. It involves significant national coordination and cooperation. But good quality drinking water is necessary for a good health and quality of life.
There are many countries doing it right. One of them is France. Did you know that in Paris, France, there are over 1,000 free public water fountains with many of them serving up sparkling, bubbly water? Ooh – La – La!! The high-quality tap water is not only free but also good for the environment. A family of four who switches to refillable water bottles can save up to 12 pounds of plastic from possibly going into the trash and ending up in the ocean. I became aware of this free, clean water in Paris after watching DOWN TO EARTH – one of my favorite Netflix shows. A must watch!
What can we as consumers do?
- Use refillable water bottles
- When buying cotton, consider 100% cotton or more earth friendly options like Hemp
- Use filtration systems in your home to filter your tap water. Avoid buying plastic jugs of water if possible.
- If you need to purchase water bottles, consider more eco options like FLOW water spring water which is made with 100% recyclable materials.
“Water is the driving force of all nature.” ~Leonardo da Vinci
Xoxo A Sustainable Love 💚