Blog: Water use remains high on the agenda

Petah Marian | 21 March 2012

Today (22 March) is World Water Day, and reducing the amount of water used by the apparel industry and ensuring that it remains unpolluted remains high on the agenda.

In an attempt to convince consumers to use less water by washing their clothing less regularly, Levi Strauss has challenged its staff to stop washing their jeans this week.

The company's has called upon its employees around the world to wear the same pair of jeans from 19-23 March. Participating employees will receive a Go Water<Less non-removable tag made of sponge on the first day to put on their jeans, which will inflate if placed in water.

The company said that besides the environmental benefits of washing jeans less frequently, it is a "well known denim-enthusiast's secret" that airing the garment instead of washing will help create a bespoke fit over time, shaping the garment to better suit the wearer's frame.

Levi's said that by washing jeans once every two weeks, consumers can reduce the water used in a jean's life cycle by 23%.

Meanwhile, research from Greenpeace suggests there could be additional advantages to cutting back on the number of wash cycles. It has relseased research that suggests that hazardous chemicals in clothing from a number of major brands is being released into public waterways when they are washed by consumers.

The research measured the percentage of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) which were washed out during simulated standard domestic laundering conditions for 14 clothing items.

The chemicals, used in textile manufacture, enter rivers, lakes and seas where they break down to form nonylphenol, which has hormone-disrupting properties and is harmful to human health.

Greenpeace said the brands, which include Abercrombie & Fitch, G-Star and Calvin Klein, are "unknowingly polluting the public water supplies in regions and countries around the world, including those where there are restrictions or bans on the use of these chemicals."



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