It’s World Water Day!
We’ve all heard of carbon footprints, but did you know you have a water footprint too?
Leading up to World Water Day, some very interesting infographics caught my eye on Pinterest about the number of gallons it takes to make just one pair of jeans (1,800 gallons!) or just one cotton t-shirt (400 gallons!).
These shocking facts inspire me to learn more about the pre-consumer issues our world is facing in just the area of dressing our kids. And, it directly supports the concepts of a Conscious Kid’s Closet - a life cycle of conscious steps from purchase through wear and care, then passing on and recycling in a conscious way.
Most of us are inspired to buy and/or sell our kids’ clothing on resale based on post-consumer facts like these:
- Per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 13.1 million tons of textiles were generated in 2010 (5.3% of total municipal solid waste (MSW), and just 14.0% percent of clothing, and footwear were recovered for export or reprocessing.
- Given kids ages 0-17 make up about 25% of the population, we can assume that clothing our kids is at generating at least 3 million tons waste each year!!
BUT, back-up a bit. Perhaps an even more urgent matter is the pre-consumer consumption and waste of water, a natural resource we all depend on for survival, that it takes to make all these clothes in the first place!
In poking around a bit more, I found an article written by a “fashionista”, ElenaSC, on the topic of “Water footprint: how the fashion industry and your shopping impact the Planet“. It’s excellent! Well-researched. A must read.
The article almost paralyzed me with a major dilemma around cotton clothing (which I adore for my kids).
Did you know that even buying organic cotton only marginally reduces the amount of water used in the clothing production process? And, that the type of clothing made with the least amount of water are those that you synthetic fabrics?
Although, at the end of the line in textile recycling, cotton is easily recycled. But, synthetic fabrics? Not necessarily.
What Can We Do?
I believe there are three key habits, that if we were to all follow, we would see enormous environmental impact:
First, when buying new clothing, make it a habit to look for quality over quantity, and try not to succumb to “Fast Fashion“.
Quality clothing most likely followed less wasteful and harmful production processes. It may cost more, but it is worth it. It will last longer, and it will retain some value for you to sell it. Think of it as an investment (I always say, “If you can throw it in your grocery cart while shopping for food, it’s likely to be very low quality”).
Second, when you are done with the clothing, make it a habit to sell it, swap it, donate it, or recycle it. If you throw fabric in the garbage where it can get wet and contaminated, it is no longer recyclable. Note: You can list quality clothing that is still in good condition for sale on LoobaLee.com – for free!
Third, when you have ruined or imperfect clothing, make it a habit to mend it, upcycle it, or recycle it. With a little bit of effort and creativity, can you think of a way to get more life out of the clothing?
How about you? Do you have ideas or thoughts on how to reduce your family’s water footprint when it comes to outfitting your kids? Please share below – thanks!