The thirsty fashion industry uses an incredible amount of water every year
Clothes are our basic necessity. The three essential things a human being needs to exist are food, clothing and shelter. They have various purposes. They protect our skin from harmful UV rays, against dust particles, protect our dignity and are also a style statement.
Just like clothes, water is also an essential component, so much so that it has recently become a commodity, that is to say, you have to pay to have access to water. Water scarcity is a global problem. There is a lot of water in the world, but only 3% of it is fresh water that can be used for cooking and drinking. You must have seen nations fighting for water, and rightly so because everyone needs water. Water is life by any means.
Water and clothing are two basic essentials, and if we combine these two, we will realize that the fashion industry uses water at an extreme level and if it continues to do so, the problem of water scarcity may worsen.
Water is vital, clothes too.
The fashion industry and its use of water
The fashion industry uses 79 billion cubic meters of water each year to produce textiles. This amount has decreased significantly because until 2020 the thirsty fashion industry used 93 billion cubic meters of water, which is equivalent to 37 million Olympic swimming pools!
To make a pair of jeans, 3,781 liters of water are used, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. This amount is equivalent to 5.5 years of fresh drinking water; however, it goes into making jeans. A t-shirt that we wear regularly at home, at work or simply to meet friends consumes 2,700 liters of water. This equates to 11,340 cups of water that can be drunk over a four-year period.
Why should it reduce its water footprint?
We all know by now that the fashion industry uses a lot of water and is the second most water-intensive industry. As we discussed above, water scarcity is increasing, and if this consumption by the fashion industry is left unchecked, then soon in the future, we may end up with zero water.
If we follow the statistics, almost 2 billion people do not have access to drinking water. It is not new information that the planet is getting hotter with each passing day and all because of global warming. The warmer the planet gets, the more water we need.
We all know that in backward states, where water is not readily available, women have to travel miles and miles to fetch water. In Africa, 40 billion hours are spent each year walking by women so that they can provide clean water for their families. Also in India, a woman walks 3 to 12 miles a day to fetch water in rural areas. Water shortage has become a burden for them. The water problem is most realized in the rural areas of the world.
Besides drinking, water is used for hygienic purposes like brushing teeth, bathing, etc. However, 2.3 billion people cannot afford to use water for basic hygiene, simply because of water scarcity.
According to the World Health Organization, if everyone had access to safe and clean water that could be used for drinking and hygiene purposes, around 2 million lives could have been saved each year.
Also read: Watch: Traditional fashion trends that will show you how much people are willing to kill their bodies to be called ‘beautiful’
What can be done?
Compared to conventional cotton, organic cotton uses 91% less water. Therefore, whenever possible, we should opt for organic cotton as it is a water efficient choice. We discussed above that a pair of jeans uses extreme water. So, you have to invest in low-water jeans.
Many garments use polyester. But polyester is a harmful fabric because it sheds millions of plastic microfibers and in turn pollutes water. Thus, we avoid buying polyester items to help make the planet healthy and clean.
I think these statistics are enough to help people realize that water scarcity isn’t just another news story, it’s more of a real-world problem. It is also enough for the fashion industry to understand why it needs to reduce its water footprint.
The change is visible, but more changes are needed from us and from the fashion industry.
Image credits: Google Images
Feature image designed by Saudamini Seth
Find the blogger: Palak Doğra
This post is tagged under: Fashion, fashion industry, fast fashion, water crisis, fashion pollution, environmental pollution, water shortage, jeans, denim, sustainable fashion
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