A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall

It’s wet today. From our office in Amsterdam's IJburg, we can see the river laid out across the horizon - the way its steely surface is disturbed by the falling rain, it tells us that summer is out, winter’s on its way. But it’s not all doom and gloom. The end of an old (and very odd) year, means the beginning of a new one. A fresh start is on its way upstream, with fresh opportunities in tow. 

It seems strange to stare out of the window feeling deep about the rain, when the amount of water consumed every year by the fashion industry amounts to 32-million Olympic-size swimming pools. It reminds us that now, more than ever, we’ve got work to do. The cold weather gives us a reason to light that fire under our asses - and get to work on improving our water-usage. So here are some (not-so-) fun (but actually kinda’ mind-blowing) facts that help us keep our eyes on the prize:

  • Textile production (including cotton farming) requires about 93 billion cubic meters of water annually. That’s 4% of the global freshwater withdrawal.
  • 3% of the planet’s drinking water goes into non-organic cotton farming alone.
  • And the percentage of water used in textile processing for dying the fabrics? 85%. That’s 5.9 trillion liters. Oh, and that water also leads to run off which pollutes nearby water sources.
  • Your average T-shirt requires 2,720 liters of water in production. Or, the amount you’ll drink in three years.
  • Your average pair of jeans requires 7,000 liters. That’s 285 showers. 

Welcome to the worrisome world of water waste. Population: us. But no need to look so blue. Yes, it’s bad, but that doesn’t mean we need to let it get worse. Like so many sustainability brands, we are working tirelessly to find ever-greener ways of saving water. We have spent the past decade developing garments with innovations that do just that. Take Kitosan washing, for example, reduces water usage by 50% on the average denim. Or man-made fabrics such as TENCEL™, which use closed-loop water reprocessing in production mean. Then, of course, there’s “dry” denim, which is treated without water entirely. 

For us, a fresh start means breaking down our production processes further and looking into where can still improve, it means finding new partners who offer advances in water-management technologies, and it means committing further to those non-irrigated, man-made and recycled fabrics which make all the difference.

For consumers, a fresh start means making new choices - since better products are nothing without better buying habits. We all know you can extend the lifecycle of a tee by buying better quality - that means a reduction in the water footprint by around 20-30% simply because the thing lasts longer. But that’s child’s-play at this stage. Let’s shift it up a gear. 

By buying a garment which uses non-irrigated crops (Hemp, for example), man-made fabrics like TENCEL™, or recycled materials, you can minimise those footprints by cutting the need for water in production hugely. Or go organic: a t-shirt with conventional cotton uses 2,168 gallons of water versus 186 gallons of water for organic; while a pair of jeans made from conventional cotton needs 9,910 gallons of water compared to 932 for organic. 

And that’s only at the materials level. Those washing and treatment alternatives, like Kitosan, ratchet those savings up even more. If you want specifics, you’ll find info on each garment in our webstore, alongside our ratings and certifications. Transparency is key for us, as consumers, to choose brands which truly embrace sustainable alternatives. 

Finally, of course, there’s what we can do at home. Did you know that ⅔ of the total water consumption of a product takes place in our domestic laundry? That’s 51,103,0591 litres of water a year for the average household spent purely on washing at home. Clothes obviously need to be cleaned and taken care of, or we’d end up buying more. But there are ways (check out this article) to change your washing habits for the better, and help your clothes last longer in the long run. 

What we’re saying is that, yes, when it comes to water-waste, we’re all in deep. But that’s no reason to give up swimming. As our totem-animal the koi carp reminds us every day, going against the current only makes us stronger. And a little rain never hurt no one. 

Kings Of Indigo 

Every Garment Made with a Conscience

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