As World Water Day is behind us, we’re bringing attention on the impact that the fashion industry has on clean water worldwide. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation reported the fashion industry’s water usage, including cotton farming, at the staggering sum of approximately 93 billion cubic metres each year. To break it down, according to the United Nations, over 7,000 litres are used in the manufacturing of a pair of denim jeans and WWF noted that the production of enough cotton needed for a single t-shirt can amount to using 2,700 litres. Needless to say, that’s a lot of water. Estimates for how much of this water restored to the ground untreated reach as high as 80-90%, leaving chemicals returned with it. In total, it’s suggested that 20% of industrial water pollution can be attributed to textile production.
So, while the pressure needs to stay on labels to improve their water usage and take actions to prevent water pollution, there are some things we can do to limit our individual impact. Here at thegreenlabels we have listed 5 tips to conserve water by staying away from water pollutants when purchasing and caring for your clothing.
Go for linen and lyocell
Both linen and lyocell are beautiful, natural and water conservation alternatives to cotton or synthetic fibres. They are luxe to wear with a number of sustainable advantages. Firstly, linen can claim the title as one of the oldest fibres used in clothing and there are plenty of reasons why. When growing the flax needed for linen, less pesticides or fertilisers are used and it is less water wasting than cotton. Not only that but it is durable, breathable and wicks moisture away from the wearer making it the ideal fabric to wear in warm weather. The Clo Stories Louise Jumpsuit uses a blend of linen and cotton in this easy, summer one-piece.
Lyocell is a natural, biodegradable fibre produced from wood pulp using environmentally friendly methods. When compared to cotton, it reportedly uses 50% less water in its manufacturing process. It’s breathable, soft and comfortable, making it the go-to option for underwear. Check out Organic Basics for some perfect base layers produced using TENCEL™ lyocell.
Opt for organic cotton over conventional cotton
As organic cotton is produced without the use of pesticides and other chemicals it is reported to create 98% less water pollution when compared to conventional cotton. Not only this, but it is said to be the greener alternative due to the water consumed in growing it since 95% comes from sources classed as ‘green water’ which includes rainwater. If you’re choosing organic, make sure to check for certification such as GOTS, which verifies that it is. For ultimate comfort in this fabric, ARMEDANGELS has you covered with 100% organic cotton.
Choose your denim wisely
Along with the high volumes of water needed in denim production, there are plenty of harmful chemicals used during the dyeing and washing processes. But there are alternatives, ARMEDANGELS have built better practices into their denim collection under the term, ‘Detox Denim’. They elect to use laser or ozone techniques to create interesting washes without water pollutants like potassium permanganate. Their denim contains 0% toxic water pollutants and is produced using certified organic cotton. To go even a step further, check out their undyed Mairaa high rise mom jeans that uses even less water by completely eliminating the dyeing process which is in fact the largest source of water contamination in textile industry and helping to conserve water.
It’s no to synthetics and microplastics
Synthetic fibres, such as nylon, polyester and acrylic are produced using non-renewable, petroleum-based resources. Around 60% of garments are estimated to be made from this type of fabric, making it difficult to avoid. In a single wash, these fabrics are reported to shed approximately 700,000 microfibres resulting in high quantities of pervasive fibres making their way into the Earth’s rivers, lakes and oceans. Whenever we can, we should opt for natural fibres. Veja's condor 2 alveomesh running shoes are the first post-petroleum shoes made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, sugarcane, Amazonian rubber, rice waste and synthetic rubber. But it is not always possible to find natural alternatives for synthetics which is why using a Guppyfriend Washing Bag when doing the laundry is a good alternative. Once the garments are secured inside, the guppy bag catches any released stands of microfibres leaving them easy to dispose of properly after washing.
Reduce your laundry
Finally, by rethinking the number of times we wear our clothes before washing them can also help reduce our impact. By following Clevercare’s advice, like airing our clothes or spot-removing stains we can extend the time between washes.
All those tips added together make sure we support & conserve clean water all along the fashion production and usage chain. Are you in with us?
By Lynne Grey