WATER X FASHION: NGO Drip by Drip is Solving the World’s Water Crisis
Did you know that over 2.1 Billion people on this planet live without safe drinking water? Or that 80% of the world’s wastewater flows back into our rivers and oceans without ever being treated? Or that two-thirds of the earth’s natural wetlands have disappeared since 1900? With water crises happening around the world from shortages in Cape Town, pollution in Flint, Michigan and rivers drying up all over India, the need to educate the public about water pollution has become more urgent. Today on United Nations’ World Water Day – and every day – do your part to preserve and purify this precious natural resource.
One of the most conscious ways to be more mindful with water use is wearing and support ethical fashion. Over 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from the treatment and dying of textiles. In fact, a single cotton sweater can consume 3500-8000 liters of water until it is in the store. In addition to wasting millions of tons of water each year, textile production also has toxic side effects on those who use and consume the water, from plants and animals to humans.
To bring more awareness to cleaning up our water by cleaning up the garment production process, Drip by Drip, a Berlin non-profit engaging in water, sanitation and waste water projects in countries challenged by the global textile industry, has teamed up with ex-Zara employee Ali Azimi (featured below) to develop diverse textiles made from natural fibers and other renewable materials that can be manufactured through rigorous water-saving processes. They consider access to fresh water a human civil right, and we couldn’t agree more.
According to Drip by Drip, water in the the natural water cycle cannot be lost in a sense that total water resources decrease. However, overexploitation, water pollution and unsustainable consumption are responsible for a ‘shift’ of existing water resources. For example, if groundwater resources are used for industrial purposes and are not released properly back to the environment, this water is ’lost’ for other purposes – e.g. drinking water. Without proper management and governance of water resources, water is bound to everyday products such as clothes – leaving many regions with increasing water stress related problems. Drip by Drip aims to prevent this, by supporting natural water cycles, protecting equal water distribution and minimizing the negative effects of our world’s fashion consumption habits.
As part of its commitment, Drip by Drip is working hard to create more ecologically sound textile alternatives, and has partnered with one of the largest textile factories in Portugal – Tintex Textiles – for a sustainable long-term cooperation to produce a modal hemp blend fabric called “Blue Fabricx”. Unlike traditional textiles, Blue Fabricx manufacturing uses 85% less water than cotton, is fully compostable and far surpasses cotton in its functional properties as a textile. In order to build sustainability into the design process for every garment made, Drip by Drip will make the textile available to anyone who wishes to craft clothing that gives water instead of taking water. The NGO has also agreed to give back 10% of all sales by investing in water projects that improve the lives of those lacking access to fresh drinking water and sanitation, as well as tailor solutions for factories to better release water back into the natural water cycle.
A great example of innovative Blue Fabricx in action is Azimi’s new Blue Ben collection of water-giving “Blue Sweaters”, ethically made from raw materials in Europe. The first batch of sweaters is now available via crowdfunding platform Start Next. Ten per cent of all proceeds generated will also help fund water projects in financially challenged countries like Bangladesh, which have been adversely affected by the textile manufacturing process.
Ready to join the movement? NGO Drip by Drip is hosting Water X Fashion: an event designed to make the connection between water and fabric manufacturing as a powerful solution to the global water crisis. The event will bring together experts from both industries at the Circular Economy House in Berlin-Neukölln. In addition to screening the acclaimed documentary “The True Cost”, the event will include two diverse panels and an open ethical market where attendees can learn more about water-saving initiatives, brands and organizations like Fashion Revolution. The event finishes off with a live performance by newcomer Berliner band Beranger.
If you can’t make it out to the event, there’s still a lot you can do as a conscious consumer to be more mindful with your water consumption:
- Calculate your water footprint.
- Take shorter showers and turn off the water when you brush.
- Collect rainwater for plants or xeriscape to save precious H20 used in home landscaping.
- Go Vegan! Livestock production is the largest source of water pollution. In fact, it takes 1-200 times more water to produce a pound of beef than a pound of plant foods.
- Wear and support ethical fashion,which uses fewer natural resources in garment manufacturing.
- Be grateful if you are blessed to have enough fresh, clean water for drinking and bathing each day. Many people on the planet do not!
- Tell a friend what they can do to save water.
For more information on World Water Day, click here.