One T-shirt and One Pair of Jeans = 2,713 Gallons of Water

Do you know how much water it probably took to make your favorite cotton t-shirt?

  1. 713 gallons of water, according to Yes 7 HUNDRED and 13 GALLONS of water. That’s literally insane! That’s the same amount of water one person needs to drink in 2 ½ years. So you can drink water for 2.5 years or buy one t-shirt. I don’t think people really understand how much water it takes to grow cotton and how much water is consumed or polluted, so we can look good in our clothes.

  2. What about your favorite blue jeans? That takes about 2000 gallons of water to make that ONE pair.

Lexy Silverstein Sustainable Fashion
Lexy Silverstein Sustainable Fashion

Why Should These 2 Facts Matter to Fashion Lovers, Like Myself?

Water is one of the most important substances on Earth. Every one of us needs it to survive. And 47% of the world’s population will face severe water shortages by 2030, according to Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. And the fashion industry is the third largest user of water globally (after oil and paper). The fashion industry currently uses enough water to quench the thirst of 110 million people for a year.

So that’s a big.. “Wow, I didn’t know that”, right?

We take water for granted because the US is one of the three countries in the world with the largest water supply. But things are about to change around the world, and yes, even for us. Goldman Sachs describes water as “the petroleum of the next century”. That’s because many think water will become more valuable than oil, (such as, Jean-Louis Chaussade, the chief executive of the French utility company Suez). Wars over water have been happening for thousands of years. Oil literally powers our global economy but water is essential to all life, so it makes sense.

So back to fashion, my favorite topic…. and water, of course, it’s a necessary discussion.

Fashion Needs to Clean Up It’s ACT and THE Water it uses.

The industry can do several things to help.

  1. Educate. It’s all of our responsibility to educate consumers about the water consumption and pollution problems caused by fashion. People can’t do anything about it, if they don’t know. And people will care, especially Millennials and Generation Z, two generations who are very thoughtful about corporate responsibility and their own purchasing power.

  2. Use vendors who are practicing sustainable methods to produce the textiles. Ask about their water management policies.

  3. Manufacturers should be performing water audits to see where they are using water and how they might be able to make changes for conservation.

  4. Recycle cotton: we’ve already shown how much water it takes to produce cotton. So instead of using new cotton all the time, recycle old material by breaking down old clothes and have it re-spun into something new. H&M, one of the worst offenders of fast fashion has started a foundation that’s using this solution. (Although critics say this is not enough)

  5. Use every inch of fabric. There is a lot of cutting when garments are created. Wasted material means wasted water. So fashion houses need to be judicious about using every inch of clothing and maybe think of how they can use whatever small parts they have left so they don’t end up in the landfill.

  6. Provide clear instructions about washing the clothes so they aren’t ruined and consumers aren’t washing them more than they have to.

  7. Working with industry leaders to reduce the need for water during the dyeing and stone-washing process

  8. Work with production houses that reuse the water it took to make garments.

I hope I’ve enlightened you just a bit and the next time you think about buying clothes, you think about water.

If you’d like to learn about you yourself can help fashion clean up it’s water waste, click here.

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