Save waterSupport climate transition

Easter chocolate to forget fashion water problems?

Easter chocolate to forget fashion water problems?
By Gaia Rattazzi

Do you know how much water is needed to make a simple cotton t-shirt? It’s a lot: 2,700 litres to be exact. That’s 900 days (more than 2 years) worth of drinking water! Gaia from @ssustainably_ explains what we can do to make better choices and Save Water, the foundation of everything in life.

Easter weekend is a great time to just sit down, relax and water our mind with some knowledge…about water and fashion. Lay back on your couch, get yourself a nice chocolate egg and stay with me.

As mentioned, I hope we won’t all feel the need to binge eat on chocolate from what I am about to share, but it’s important to know the impact of our clothes.

This is Gaia from @ssustainably_ taking you through some of the learnings I’ve gathered over time.

Fashion and water, a one sided love story

Water is the foundation of life so it’s no surprise that the fashion industry is heavily reliant on this precious resource. 

As we realise the importance of water we are told to take shorter showers, to wait until we have full loads before machine washing or dishwashing, to not water the lawn too often, to close the tap while we wash our teeth etc.

These are all important things we should pay attention to, yet we’re not told how much water is needed to make a simple cotton t-shirt. It’s a lot: 2,700 litres to be exact. That’s 900 days (more than 2 years) worth of drinking water! Before you get freaked out by the statistics you’ll read, fear not, I am here to give you solutions! 

water pollution
Image by Ksenia Schneider

Materials and their water consumption

Cotton is well known for its high water consumption, and that’s nothing new; the Aral Sea in Central Asia began to shrink in the 1960s and by 1997 it shrunk to 10 percent of its former volume, largely due to irrigation for cotton farming. It takes on average 10,000 litres of water to cultivate just one kilogram of raw cotton (which makes up 90% of the natural fibres used worldwide) and if we consider that a lot of cotton is grown in water-stressed areas, it’s easy to picture the extent of the problem.

Cotton is one of the thirstiest fibres, but it’s certainly not the only one that requires lots of water to be produced. Picture a pair of bovine leather shoes; to make them, around 8.000 litres of water are needed. Silk also requires a lot of water to be turned into fibre, if more efficient ways of processing are not used, mostly to soften the cocoons that spin the silk. These examples show how much water is hidden in the clothes we wear. 

Image by Kuyichi

Production is no joke either

All materials have to go through many stages before they can be turned into the fibres we know. Conventional textile dyeing and finishing of raw fibres is not just polluting but requires lots of water as well! It’s estimated that processing (spinning, dyeing and finishing) a kilogram of fibre requires from 100 to 150 litres of water. Fashion is in fact one of the biggest polluter of freshwater, after agriculture, accounting for 20% of the world’s industrial water pollution

Aren’t there wastewater cleaning facilities? Factories don’t just dispose of the waste products by dumping them into rivers, right? Well, I couldn’t believe it either, yet that often happens… As most clothing production happens in countries in the global South which don’t have the proper infrastructure, the substances used to treat and dye clothes end up in rivers (and they aren’t harmless substances either, read this free book to learn what kind of chemicals our clothes contain).

These are the same rivers from which local communities gather their drinking water. Thankfully, more awareness is being raised around this problem.

So, what can we do?

By adding Save Water, Non Toxic on your MyRenoon in the app you will be able to discover brands and materials with certified production processes, utilizing better materials. As an example, choose organic cotton over traditional cotton. It might seem like a minor change,  but if we consider that organic cotton uses 91% less water, it is undeniable how big of an impact we can have by simply readapting our purchase choices.
Ps. the only cotton on Renoon is either organic or recycled. 

When possible, I also like to opt for second hand garments (Renoon can definitely help you with that by keeping monitored multiple second-hand websites at once) or choosing upcycled collections made with no use of new material.

More on these solutions coming soon! I hope you didn’t finish all your chocolate. Keep learning and making better choices together with us!

What to read next

What is Renoon?

A new way to discover and shop fashion responsibly

Renoon is a leading app for sustainability and fashion. We connect our members with the multitude of brands and platforms to simplify and enrich the experience of combining style with sustainability values.

A destination and community launched in 2021, guiding thousands of members in their sustainability journey. Renoon is not yet another shop; it’s an entire universe of values, untold stories about sustainability and a cohesive place where intentions become reality.

Edit & personalize the sustainability topics in the free app: unlock the universe of values you care about.

Download it now
apple store icongoogle play store icon