Water is the one thing we cannot replace. We can surely find other sources for energy than oil, but without water we cannot survive on this planet. And as the sea-levels rise, we have less drinking-water. That is why we need to clean up our streams and water-ways.
Water is a significant concern at the cultivation and creation of raw materials (such as cotton) and during consumer use in a garment’s lifecycle. The sheer volume of water consumed in the cultivation of some crop-based materials has reduced the availability of water in the face of increasing demand in numerous regions around the world. Furthermore, use of pesticides during crop-cultivation and poor water quality management during material processing has left communities vulnerable to serious health risks and business vulnerable to reputational risk. Finally, water use consumption is highest during consumer use due to garment care and washing. The majority of consumers are unaware of the impact of their washing decisions, and the important role they can play in reducing the overall impact of the apparel industry on water consumption.
We strive to ensure communities have priority access to safe, clean drinking water. Materials are cultivated in new, more sustainable ways that don’t deplete local water suppliers. Any water used for processing is treated to safe levels and returned to local water bodies. There is clear, consistent information available on the environmental impacts of cotton, cotton blends, and other materials, including the impacts of water use and water quality on specific sourcing regions. Looking beyond cotton, the industry adopts new, innovative materials that require less water at cultivation, and business considers the water impacts when selecting product materials and creates garments that embed an understanding of impacts to water resources at the outset.
Through the Better Cotton Initiative water consumption in the affected areas in Pakistan is already reduced with 50 %.
Wool, Modal® and Tencel® are examples of textiles that we tend to air rather than wash. Educating the consumer om this would also have a great impact.
Short term goals
Avoid sourcing from water-stressed areas and using water-intensive textiles.
Encourage waste-water treatment and closed-loop systems.
Educate the consumer on washing-habits and garment-care.
Medium term goal
Work with dye-processes that use little or no water - and develop these further.
Work with industry standards such as The Better Cotton Initiative.