Did you know every new pair of jeans is made using nearly 3,000 gallons of water? It takes about 2,247 gallons to grow enough cotton for that. How?
To begin with, it takes 165 gallons just to dilute the chemicals used in the growing process. Then, to treat the raw cotton at the manufacturing level, 97 gallons are used. Ninety-five gallons are used to print and dye the fabric, followed with a final 36 gallons to finish them off. Consider the water weight used to make the average outfit:
Jeans: 2,600 gallons
100-percent cotton T-Shirt: 975 gallons
Underwear: 86 gallons
Boxer shorts: 252 gallons
Socks: 244 gallons/pair
Total: 3,905 gallons for girls and 4,071 gallons for guys
Ninety-seven and a half percent of Earth’s water is saltwater while most of the remaining freshwater is frozen in polar ice or otherwise inaccessible to us. Humans and all other life that require freshwater must share less than 0.5 percent of the water on Earth. In order to conserve water there are many steps one should take, but a simple way to start cutting down the water weight of one’s clothing is to simply buy fewer clothes. When in need of new clothes, try buying used or vintage clothes when possible. Going thrifting can be a lot of fun and it saves a lot of money as well. If that doesn’t work, clothing stores like American Apparel, Alternative Apparel, Jonano and Natural High Lifestyle offer lines of eco-friendly designs and products.
Try looking for clothes made from locally grown cotton, and looking for textile blends like cotton, hemp, linen, flax or bamboo. Egyptian cotton might be luxurious but it takes nearly twice as much water to produce. Lighter colored clothes also use less water when it comes to the printing and dying stages of production. Looking for clothes made from organically grown cotton is a really good idea, but less than one percent of the world’s cotton is organically grown, so it’s generally harder to find and also more expensive. Think about the type of cotton used in the clothing you’re buying and when you grow out of your clothing, instead of throwing it away, donate it to your local thrift store.
Taking proper care of clothing also allows for more eco-friendly options. A good way to start would be purchasing clothing that doesn’t require frequent washing or using things like Tide to Go pens for stain removal instead of throwing otherwise clean clothes in the washing machine. Instead of using a standard washing machine, try steam washing the clothing. It requires less water and many steam washers are now available for personal use.
This semester, Rider is teaming up with Planet Aid to collect old clothing. Clothing will be donated to communities in the poorest regions of the world where they are needed. While packing up for the summer, set aside any clothing or shoes no longer used, and keep an eye out for the large yellow Planet Aid clothing bins. There is information available about Planet Aid’s other projects at their website, www.planetaid.com.
– Rose Harmon