How to Save Water in Apparel Production

Our long term commitment to sustainability wouldn’t be what it is without our vow to save water. We’ve been reminded to turn off the sink while brushing our teeth from a young age, and we can all agree that protecting this valuable resource is more important now than ever.

We’re on a mission to cut our water usage by 100,000 liters per year by 2025. Here’s what we’re already doing, and will continue to do, to up our H2O-saving game.

Recycled Fibers

When it comes to sustainable fibers, recycled fibers are the gold standard. Virgin materials require a ton of land, energy, chemicals, and—you guessed it—water, to produce. Recycled fibers, on the other hand, rely on materials that have already gone through those resource-intensive production processes once. If you want to get in the eco-weeds, here’s how fabric is made from recycled plastic bottles.

From 2018 to 2019, we have almost doubled our use of recycled fibers. And each year, we’ll continue to raise the bar.

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Organic Cotton

A conventional cotton T-shirt takes 713 gallons of water to grow (enough to sustain one person for almost three years!). But organic agriculture uses water more responsibly. For something to be GOTS certified, it must use a certain amount of “green water” (a more sustainable kind of water, which uses rain water instead of irrigation) versus “blue water” (pumped in from lakes, streams, glaciers, and snow). Overall, organic cotton uses 88% less water than conventional cotton to grow.

100% of our cotton is certified organic or recycled, always and forever.

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Water-Wise Fibers

Fabrics that take less water to produce, such as hemp and TENCEL™, are a big win for Mother Earth. Hemp is more than the latest buzzword—it’s an epic wonder weed that relies primarily on rainwater to grow. And TENCEL™ is a plant-based fiber made from certified sustainable trees (often eucalyptus, which require far less acreage and water to grow than cotton). It’s made in a closed loop process, recycling process water and reusing the solvent at a recovery rate of more than 99%. Lenzing Modal® is another fave eco-friendly fiber of ours. The bulk of it comes from renewable beech trees which grow quickly, don’t rely on artificial irrigation, and propagate on their own.

From 2018 to 2019, we’ve more than doubled our use of hemp fibers, increased our use of TENCEL™ by over 30%, and increased our use of Lenzing Modal® by almost 40%. And our commitment to these low maintenance plants isn’t going anywhere.

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Closed-Loop Production 

In a closed loop system, products are designed and manufactured to circulate within society for as long as possible, with maximum usability, minimum waste generation, and the most efficient use of resources (ie: using our natural resources to their full potential before discarding them, and even then, discarding in a way that won’t harm the environment). In closed-loop factories, wastewater doesn’t leave the plants. Instead, it’s filtered and sent back to its own system to be reused. Fibers like TENCEL™ and Modal are processed in closed-loop systems which recover and reuse solvents.

Let’s do this, sustainability. ‘Til death do us part.

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