Have you ever wondered how much water is used to make a cotton shirt? 2500 litres - and this is in the same world where 800 million people still lack adequate water access.
71% of the Earth's surface is water covered and the oceans hold about 96.5% of all Earth's water. There is not a water shortage and thank goodness water never sits still. Yet most of the earths water contains salt, so humans rely on the 1% of freshwater that we have access to. The vast majority this 1% of water is situated underground which is expensive and difficult to abstract.
Goldman Sachs predict water will be the petroleum of the 21st century. Water scarcity is not just due to physical availability, but also its poor management. Its intrinsic value to humankind must be recognized. Even more concerning is the fact that climate change is set to affect the poorest of livelihoods who are often heavily reliant on water. Water shortage could be a more serious threat to humanity in the 21st century than food and energy shortages.
We live in a world where there is a ‘double conquest’ for water: both livelihoods and industry depend on it. Unfortunately, the fashion industry is a major offender when it comes to both water consumption and pollution. Certain chemicals and pesticides used in the process of making clothes are hugely polluting to local drinking water and water sources.Sustainability is a journey of progress not perfection. We recognize we don’t have all the answers today, but below we have listed 4 areas for you to lower your impact. It’s time to filter your fashion water consumption.
Choose Organic Cotton.
Organic cotton uses 91% less water than conventional cotton. Cotton is a thirsty crop, it needs a lot of irrigation so it uses huge amounts of water. A cotton shirt uses 2,500 litres of water in its process. The water pollution caused during the chemical/dyeing process within cotton production also needs considering. By switching to organic cotton, the whole supply chain has a lower environmental impact, from how it’s grown to the dyeing and finishing processes. Choosing organic means the system is regulated so it can decompose easily. Great examples of organic cotton shirts are Komodo, Rozenbroek and Cut&Pin.
“The water used to make ONE shirt is almost 3 years’ worth of drinking water.” Frankie - TOBEFRANK.
Invest in low water production Jeans.
It takes on average 10,000 litres of water to make a pair of jeans. The washing and dying of jeans are one of the most water intensive methods of retail production. However, there are brands we work with at Generous APE who use laser equipment and innovative methods to significantly reduce the impact of their denim production. Frankie from TBFUK says “Laser finishing is brilliant. We still need people to run the machines, but they are safe. Computer-driven laser technology can replicate localised wear and whiskers without water, chemicals or stones. Laser is precise.” Please shop United Change Makers for Komodo, jeans constructed in organic cotton and TBFUK jeans.
“We are passionate about protecting and nurturing our planet, but we also love fashion and don’t believe the two need to be mutually exclusive. Why can’t we look great whilst fighting for the world we live in?” Andy - Komodo.
The Polyester Problem.
Polyester is one of the top offenders when it comes to water pollution. In simple terms polyester is plastic. Not only does the production of polyester require many harmful chemicals, (which, if not managed properly, can cause serious pollution impact on water systems), but when washed, polyester sheds millions of microfibers. These ‘microplastics’ can end up in our drinking water, as well as pose a major threat to marine life. Recycled polyester uses PET (polyethylene terephthalate) as the raw material. This is the same material that is used in clear plastic water bottles. Recycling it to create this fabric prevents it from going to landfill. PhoebeGrace only uses recycled polyester, designed and made in the UK.
“Our innovative recycled polyester, for example, is made from 100% plastic bottles; reducing landfill, soil contamination and air and water pollution.” Janet - PhoebeGrace.
Give up the single-use obsession.
Fast fashion thrives off the “wear once” novelty. This is the major problem with the mentality around consuming low cost, low quality garments. People ask “why is sustainable fashion more expensive?” We say “why is fast fashion so cheap.” One of the key takeaways here is to understand that when you invest in products which have been produced sustainably, you are also invested in quality and also invested in the people who made them. It’s all about buying products that last. The majority of sustainable clothes have a timeless and seasonless quality to them. This can ultimately lower your impact and lower the mounting issues surrounding waste that comes as a by-product of our single-use obsession. “Generous APE is the counterculture to fast fashion.
We will always continue to redefine relationships with fashion and retail investing in today for the benefit of tomorrow.” Hugo – Generous APE.
As we all know, no one can live without water and this is the first need of any living being. We should understand the importance of water in our lives. The Earth is the only known planet in this universe that has water and life. Don’t waste it.
22 March - World Water Day.