Now Reading
Role of Fashion from Water Consumption to Water Pollution

Role of Fashion from Water Consumption to Water Pollution

What if I say they are highly correlated? It would seem weird to any sane person. Or should I say any unconscious person, because- Fashion that trends today is deciding the ration of resources we would hold in the future, especially- Water. Let me lay some facts to make it more believable-1 tonne of dyed fabric needs 200 tonnes of freshwater. And 1 kg of cotton takes up to 20,000 litres of water. These are disturbing numbers, but when has the truth been relenting? This amount of consumption of water builds huge stress on as valuable a resource as water, which has been at almost depletion stage in various regions of the world including big cities. The leading contributor to water pollution is the apparel and textile industry with its 79 cubic metres of water usage in the year 2015. And the people’s demand for clothing has only increased so one can imagine the number of today. Once the water has been used for production purposes, 80-90% of wastewater flows back into the environment as predicted by the UN. This wastewater is the carrier of toxic substances such as lead, mercury, and arsenic, among others. Industries let this untreated wastewater flow indirectly into freshwater bodies such as rivers, lakes, etc. endangering the aquatic life and local people who use these water bodies for their daily chores. And this contamination gets globalized once these toxins enter the seas.It is not just industrial processes but the agricultural practices should also be scrutinized as the fertilizers utilized to produce cotton contaminate water abundantly polluting runoff waters and evaporation waters. Taking a micro view at this situation, each time we wash the polyester, nylon, and other synthetic clothes, very fine small fibres of range 1900 are released into the water. When this water reaches the sea, small fish eat these fibres which are then ingested by big fish, and this cycle continues polluting the whole food chain. It is surprising that nobody is talking about the disposing of the clothing and the textile waste which is getting creating due to it. Merely 15% of the textile waste is recycled or donated and the remaining is accumulated in the landfill or gets incinerated.Nearly 72% of the clothing consists of plastics (to put it gently, synthetic fibres- polyesters). And this plastic is here to stay as it takes up to 2 centuries for it to get decomposed. Consequences of Apparel Value Chain on Water The tentacles of the apparel industry are spread to affect various members who themselves help this clothing world to flourish.50 farmers died and around 800 of them were hospitalized due to side effects of overuse of insecticides on cotton crops. A staggering 16% of the total insecticides put to use all across the globe, is sprayed for cotton cultivation. Bangladesh’s surge on the international scene in terms of textile export revenue is huge- US$ 28 Billion accounting for the generation of approx. 217 million cubic meters of polluted wastewater. Also, Bangladesh being one of the most water-depleted regions of the world uses this poisonous water to grow crops, vegetables, and fruits. The arsenic, chromium, mercury, and textile (azo) dyes substances from these food items enter into humans causing mutagenic and carcinogenic illnesses.Some Realized Souls- Companies Which Are Acting Responsibly impossible is Nothing – Maybe taking a cue from their tagline Adidas has started investing in the sustainable production of their products by making use of sustainable cotton and recycled polyester. Taking the lead by this innovation and sustainable centric approach, Adidas is surely making them future-ready and building an even better brand image than they already have.Known for keeping the customer’s insights at the forefront, GAP Inc. realized through its research that the next generation of customers are serious about sustainability. So they have started inculcating the value of sustainability into every aspect of its production- design, raw material selection wet processing techniques. Their product teams have taken upon themselves the material selection on the basis of circularity potential and water quality impacts.H&M is the only company that mentions microfiber in their response through CDP water. Companies need to be more aware and those who are aware, need to be more vocal and put forth the impact their product has on the environment and what actions they are taking towards sustainability. What we see today is just the tip of the iceberg due to the fog of lack of ethics and responsibility towards our surroundings. But the picture is going to get clearer and scarier towards the end of the next decade.Need Of The Hour – Changing The Tradition:Here are few small things with the potential for big impact if we all follow them-Save a lot of water with low-frequency washing of clothes. For surface stains use gaffer tape and the stains are small use soapy water for only that spot. Wear the clothes as often as you can between 2 washes. Buy a steamer, which can make a shabby shirt look brand new without the hassle of washing it all throughout.Invest in second-hand clothes, if needed for a special occasion- rent them! And friends are always there if an exchange of cloth is needed 94% of the drinking water in the US contains microplastic- a study by Orb Media. How did that happen? Let’s just say it our own Karma! Synthetic fibre clothes are washed in machines and that water gets carried into the sea and river and back to us. As much as you can, avoid washing the synthetic fibres. If absolutely need, use Guppyfriend Bag, which collects the microplastics from the machine water used for washing. Then dump that bag of microplastic like an achievement!Use it a little longer to make your future a little stronger- meaning use the jeans as much as you can and keep them in circulation. “A pair of Levi’s 501 jeans uses almost 1,000 gallons of water in its life cycle. That’s enough clean drinking water for one person for 1,890 days in one pair of jeans.” Keep repairing and using the clothes as our Indian mothers do- when a shirt is over its life, use it for cleaning the wet utensils and if that is done and dusted, make it a doormat.Finally, become inquisitive and start investigating for good. Ask questions to your favorite brand of clothing about their processes and their contribution towards a sustained future with more freshwater. Ask them to transform their strategy to conserve water, or the price of the freshwater would surpass the price of branded denim. And they do not want to get down from your priority list, do they? Adapt sustainability, it is no more an option for fashion but a box to be ticked at all times.Taking a cue from Irene Adler, I say- “Sustainability is the new Trendy.”

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top