To celebrate World Environment Day, we thought we would focus on a hugely important aspect of our planet and environment: water.
Water makes up over 70% of our planet – by all accounts, that’s a lot of water. However, 97% of that is salty, so it’s of little use to us. Another 2% is inaccessible to humans (mostly locked in snow!), and so we are left with 1% of the world’s water as a finite supply for our planet. Just to emphasise – that needs to last us FOREVER. So, we should probably be a little more careful when it comes to our fashion.
The fashion industry is one of the biggest consumers of water. Of all fashion materials, cotton is the thirstiest. One cotton t-shirt requires 2,700 litres of water (to grow the cotton, manufacture it and transport it) – which is enough for you or I to stay well hydrated for 900 days.
Worse still, it’s also the second biggest polluter of water – after the oil industry. Unless you’re buying organic cotton, chances are insecticides and pesticides were used to grow the cotton, and later washed into the water system. Entire communities rely on that water to wash and drink – and it has terrible health impacts for them, which we rarely hear about.
Huge investment is going into training farmers, manufacturers and retailers into becoming more efficient with their water usage. Sometimes it seems like the big corporates are the bad guys, but evidence shows that many of them are coming along leaps and bounds in their research and implementation. When an item leaves the shop though, it’s down to us.
So what can we do? Here are a few pointers…
- Are we buying organic cotton? This means that the cotton used to make your products were grown without pesticides that pollute the water system for entire communities
- Are we buying ethical fashion? We often think of sustainable fashion as about the people – which it is – but it’s also about our planet. It’s hard to be thinking about our planet when you’re shopping, but it’s something that should be further at the front of our minds than it currently is.
- How often are you washing and drying? Don’t get us wrong, we love a fresh-scented person, and we really aren’t fans of body odour. But each washing cycle uses 50 litres. We ought to think a little more about whether something needs to go in the wash – and ideally hanging it in the sun to dry rather than using a tumble-dryer.