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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Tencel®: The New Performance Fabric

Mother Nature brings a lot to the table when it comes to performance. Synthetic fabrics like spandex, polyester, and nylon dominate the active wear marketplace, but plant-based fibers offer a lot of the same benefits with a fraction of the environmental costs. (Plus, nothing beats the feeling of plant-based fibers against your skin). Made from an eco-friendly eucalyptus wood pulp, Tencel® is perhaps our very favorite.

Tencel® starts with fine, water-loving fibers that quickly absorb and transport moisture away from the skin. Its cellulosic nature inhibits the growth of bacteria, which allows for stronger, longer lasting yarns. And softness. Like MEGA softness. Tencel® is akin to silk in both feel and drape, and it’s low pilling so you can wear it over and over again. Pure Tencel® fabrics are lightweight and airy (great for summer travel), while a Tencel® blend boasts excellent year-round performance (if you just can’t live without your polyester active-wear). Tencel® is 100% machine washable and won’t bag out or melt away in the dryer over time. #laundrywin

Last, and most importantly, we love Tencel® for its clean production process. The eucalyptus is grown in Europe and requires fewer pesticides and far less acreage and water than cotton. The raw eucalyptus is processed in an eco-award winning “closed loop” system that recovers and reuses 99.7% of the processing solvents. (Sidenote: the primary solvent is the nontoxic solvent amine oxide and is infinitely better than harsher solvents used in traditional viscose processes.)

Our Tencel® has been certified according to the Oeko-Tex® Standard 100, a rigorous testing, auditing, and certification system for environmentally friendly textiles. It’s also recognized by the European Union as both safe and sustainable. Can your activewear claim all that?

Forget what you thought you knew about crunchy, shiny performance fabrics – Mother Nature knows best. Shop our Men’s Tencel® and Women’s Tencel® styles and see for yourself.

Sustainability Cheat Sheet

 

During the busiest shopping season of the year, we want you to shop responsibly. Did you know that close to 12.7 million tons of textiles end up in the landfills annually? And that the textile industry is one of highest polluting industries on the planet? Luckily, there are lots of brands devoted to making clothing that minimizes our impact on the planet. If we could, we’d go naked everywhere, all the time. But eventually we’d get cold and crabby and probably make some rash decisions. Everybody wears clothes, everybody shops and that’s okay. Just shop with knowledge and give gifts that are sustainably built and from environmentally conscious brands. So cut this cheat sheet out, commit it to memory, screen shot it, send it to your friends and family, tattoo it to your arm… whatever you have to do. Just remember, what’s good for the planet is good for you, too. Happy Holidays!

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Feeling inspired? Shop our Organic Cotton Styles for Men and Women

F16-FLANNAGANS

 Non-Mulesed Merino Wool Sweaters 

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