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4 Materials That Could Help Reduce Fashion’s Water Footprint

The fashion industry consumes 79 trillion litres per year. It is also responsible for 20% of industrial water pollution and 35% of microplastic pollution in our oceans, which is an unimaginable amount of damage to an already scarce resource. Half of the world’s population could be living in areas facing water scarcity by as early as 2025, which is why it is in our best interest to be more thoughtful about the material choices we make with our clothes. We found four sustainable fabrics that fare a lot better when it comes to water consumption. 

Key Takeaways: 1. Organic Cotton

Accounting for over 40% of all clothing worldwide, conventional cotton may be the most ubiquitous material found in clothes, but it is the most problematic when it comes to water consumption. It takes all of 2,700 litres of water to produce one cotton t-shirt from crop to closet — that’s enough water drinking water for a person over 900 days. Fortunately, organic cotton has emerged as the more sustainable version of cotton since it can be grown using 91% less water than its non-organic counterpart. Since 80% of organic cotton crops are rain-fed, and not irrigated, farmers are also able to produce these plants without heavily relying on local water resources.

2. Hemp

From fashion to food, beauty, and beyond, it is estimated that the global market for hemp consists of more than 25,000 products, and we’ve only just scratched the surface. Of its many sustainable characteristics, hemp’s water consumption is impressively meager compared to non-organic cotton. For example, research claims that cotton needs around 10,000 litres of water to produce just 1kg of fibre, while the overall water required to produce 1 kg of hemp from a hemp crop is 2,123 litres


Derived from nature, TENCEL™ lyocell and modal fibres are made from wood pulp of eucalyptus trees from Austria’s sustainably managed forests and neighbouring countries. These certified eco-friendly fibres are known for recycling 99% of the water used in their production process, making them highly resource-efficient and low on environmental impact. Compared to conventional cotton, TENCEL™ fibres are big on water savings as they take up only 46 L/kg whereas producing cotton takes up 10,000 L/kg.

4. Linen

One of the most ancient fibres known to man, linen comes from flax plant fibres and has been used to create cloth since at least 8,000 BC. Known for its remarkable ability to withstand high temperatures, which makes the fabric ideal for the summer season, linen is also environmentally positive. A report by CELC claims that a linen shirt will use up 6.4 litres of water compared with 26 litres for a cotton shirt. During its cultivation stage, usual rainfall is enough to irrigate flax, unlike cotton that requires high volumes of water.

Published by: Jharna pariani/ 2021-08-17

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