5 Facts You Need to Know About Water in the Fashion Industry


We all know fashion uses a lot of water. From the growing of the cotton, to the dying process, to the manufacturing, water is an essential component throughout the fashion supply chain. For decades, water has been taken for granted. Recently, there has been more attention paid to water however, as droughts and water deficiencies have caused companies huge losses. Here are 5 shocking facts about water in fashion:

1. The fashion industry is Suffering Major Losses from Drought:

Gap was forced to cut its profit forecast by 22% after drought cut into the cotton crop in Texas. Jean companies throughout Southern California are losing tens of millions from drought there. H&M recently announced a complete detailed water strategy to cut down on water usage to avoid further losses. 

2. It takes a lot of Water to Make Just 1 T-Shirt

According to WWF, it can take up to 700 gallons to produce enough cotton to make a single t-shirt. The Better Cotton Initiative is trying to minimize this environmental impact by educating farmers on reducing water and pesticide use.

3. The technology for Recycling Water isn't There Yet

The technology to recycle water has struggled to take off mainly because of how many chemicals are used in dyes. Nonetheless, Levi's recently worked with a supplier to make 100,000 pairs of jeans with 100% recycled water giving hope that the technology can scale. 

4. Water Scarcity is only going to Grow

Water usage is predicted to increase by 50% in developing countries and 18% in developed countries between now and 2025. This increased usage puts further pressure on brands to find sustainable water sources.

5. Water Costs Way More than We Think

We don't think of water as expensive. That's because water has always been subsidized. But according to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, if farmers and fashion brands were to truly calculate the cost of water in their supply chain, the cost of water and energy was accurately factored in cotton, it would cost around $US7.50 per ton as compared to its current $US1.50 per ton. That's a 7x difference. As water runs dry, companies must prepare for the cost of production to skyrocket. Fortunately new water reducing techniques are on the rise.