This month, I’m changing it up a bit. We won’t be looking at issues within the production of garments themselves, but rather what happens to much of our clothing once we’re done with them and have donated it to charity.
Oh you thought they’d all be sold and bought by people to reuse?
Welcome to another episode of: Calling out the West and its neo-colonial practices!
Before you buy your next new outfit maybe you can consider how much water was used to make each single part of that outfit. This week we explore water consumption in fast fashion.
How much water is hiding in the behind the pretty clothes we buy?
900 days of water = one t shirt
1000 bathtubs of water = one household’s fashion water consumption per year
7000 litres of water = pair of jeans
How does our fast fashion water consumption affect the environment?
“In the 1950s, two rivers in Central Asia, the Amu Darya and and the Syr Darya, were diverted from the Aral sea to provide irrigation for cotton production in Uzbekistan and nearby Turkmenistan.
Today, water levels in the Aral are less than 10 percent of what they were 50 years ago. As the Aral dried up, fisheries and the communities that relied on them failed. Over time, the sea became over-salinated and laden with fertilizer and pesticides from the nearby fields. Dust from the dry, exposed lakebed, containing these chemicals and salt saturated the air, creating a public health crisis and settling onto farm fields, contaminating the soil.
The Aral is rapidly becoming a dry sea and the loss of the moderating influence that such a large body of water has on the weather has made the region’s winters much colder and summers hotter and drier.
While Uzbekistan is an extreme example of how cotton farming can wreak havoc on the environment, the impact of cotton agriculture is felt in other regions, including Pakistan’s Indus River, Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin and the Rio Grande in the U.S. and Mexico.”
What can be done?
Levi’s have used recycled water successfully to create 100,000 pairs of jeans. That’s pretty impressive. However the likelihood of this happening depends on the region’s policy about clean water. ”It is likely to be adopted far faster in China than in Bangladesh, because cleaner production is part of government policy in China, along with a gradual increase in water recycling in specific sectors.”
These five south asian manufacturers are tackling water consumption by installing waterless washing machines, using rain water harvesting technology and purifying waste water.
Cotton is the least sustainable fibre but…
The key to economic development to many countries is the fashion industry. So rather than moving the industry to region with more water supply The Better Cotton initiative aims to make global cotton production better for the 250 million people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future.
Cotton could be replaced by CRAiLAR, a class B fibre which, like linen, comes from the fast-growing flax plant. CRAiLAR is turned into a fibre more like cotton when spun using a particular enzyme process.
What can we (consumers) do?
We can extend the life of our garments. If we did this by 9 months we could say 5-10% water consumption. Not much, but gives you something to think about
Put pressure on brands to ensure they are taking steps towards sustainable water consumption
Recycle and up-cycle clothes (come to a swapshop!)
We can buy certified organic cotton garments. Have a look at this comparison taken from Ecooutfitters:
This week’s fair favourites are Yunit. I love their small collection and unisex style.
“Yunit is produced under fair conditions and all items are made as sustainable as possible.”
Could you describe Yunit Studio’s social responsibility? We work with small production houses which we personally selected. These production houses are selected because they highly value the staff and their working environment. We can guarantee they are paid a good wage and their children are in school.
And what about environmental responsibility? Yunit Studio works as much as possible with organic cotton. We always discuss with our supplier what the best possibilities are to produce and transport in a sustainable way. You can find more information about this subject in our Weekly.
Choose Repack and receive your order in a re-usable package. Once you have received your goods, you can simply return the packaging for free.