We are always looking for ways to do things better and make as little impact on the planet as possible - and water is no different. The way we all use water is hugely important, not just for the planet but for people. This World Water Day we wanted to talk about why this is important, a few initiatives that we are working on and highlight the amazing work done by others.
Why is it important?
The fashion industry is currently the third largest user of water globally (after oil and paper) with fashion using one tenth of all water used industrially in the world. The industry relies heavily on water throughout the production process for textiles and garments. It takes on average 10,000 litres of water to cultivate just one kilogram of raw cotton, the material used in a third of textiles produced globally (and which represents 90 per cent of all natural fibres used).
Did you know it requires approximately three thousand litres of water to produce just one cotton shirt? Conventional textile dyeing is also hugely polluting to the environment. It’s estimated that processing (including spinning, dyeing, finishing) a kilogram of fibre (not just cotton, but also polyester and other materials) requires 100 to 150 litres of water. Being aware of the impact of using various fabrics is hugely important in decreasing the water usage in the fashion industry. For example, the water pollution impact of organic cotton has been shown to be 98 per cent less than non-organic cotton production.
The fabric production process also impacts local communities. As not all cotton is grown in rain-fed areas; around half of production requires additional irrigation, adding stresses on local water supply. For instance, the Aral Sea in Central Asia has shrunk to just 10 per cent of its former volume, largely due to irrigation for cotton farming. With 2 billion people already living in water-stressed areas, fashion manufacturing has a responsibility to find ways to minimise water use in the production of garments.
In our fabrics:
Organic cotton uses considerably less water in its production, as well as fewer chemicals - so waterways are not polluted, and farmers and their communities are kept safe.
Looking at every piece we’ve ordered this year, 77.8% are made from organic cotton, compared to 6% non-organic cotton (the rest of the collection is made up of other fabrics including 7.3% recycled PET) - and we’re continually working to improve that.
We are acquiring GOTS certification across more of our range - Ismail already uses GOTS certified cotton but it’s just his factory which doesn’t have the accreditation, so we can’t label the final garment as GOTS, but we have the certificate for the fabric used. Some of our new factories that we are working with are GOTS certified so you will start to see some of our products coming through with the official GOTS logo on them.
GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) is one of the strictest, highest standards you can reach - it looks for environmental AND human risk throughout the WHOLE supply chain. GOTS cotton is grown in areas with high rain fall (meaning less irrigation) along with many other benefits.
In our supply chain:
- Ensure all workers have access to clean water
- Provide period products/facilities
- Ensure strict monitoring and control of wastewater or anything that could pollute waterways.
- Facilitate community engagement projects to provide safe drinking water
All about the people
As an essential and hugely valuable component in various production and manufacture, there is of course a greater purpose for water. It is the foundation of life and there are huge implications for people communities who don’t have access to safe water. Did you know that there are parts of India where 90% of people cannot consistently access safe drinking water?
Ensuring that everyone has access to sustainable water and sanitation services is not only a critical climate change mitigation strategy for the years ahead but also a basic human right – we all deserve access to clean water, every single day.
This World Water Day we also wanted to share the wonderful work being done by our friends at Frank Water, a Bristol based water & sanitation Charity, funding safe water in India & Nepal. At this time more than ever, it is important to share and support small organisations trying to make the world a better place.
Frank Water are working towards a future in which everyone has equal access to a safe, secure water supply. By working alongside communities to improve the way they capture, store and use the water they help communities to become more resilient to the effects of climate change and disease – from providing schools with washbasins and hygiene education to installing gravity fed water systems serving whole communities. Taps, toilets and good hygiene all reduce the risk of disease, keep children in school, enable women to work and encourage communities to thrive.
There is enough water in the world for everyone to live a healthy life so it’s just not right that so many people don’t have access to clean water. Let’s put it like this:
Frank Water’s main is focus is eradicating e-coli and diarrhoea but now, more than ever, they are working to keep people safe by providing them with the clean water and sanitation they need to stay free from disease. The communities they work with work live below the poverty line and rely on casual labour for their income. They can't afford to miss a single day of work, let alone several months. They are the least well equipped to cope with this global health crisis - safe water, toilets and good hygiene matter now more than ever.
This World Water Day they are running a campaign (until 26th March) to raise £15,000 to be able to run community projects to do exactly that. It costs just £12 to provide one person with the safe water and the handwashing/ hygiene training they need to stay safe from disease. We can all help by donating what we can directly to their Just Giving page!