There’s Tons of Water in Your Jeans

There’s Tons of Water in Your Jeans

Denim jeans demand tons of water.

A new study tracked all the water required to produce your denim jeans and estimated that, in total, it added up to tons of water. That’s a soggy seat. Or rather it means cotton denim has a huge water footprint.

A major finding of the study conducted by USC Donsife researcher, Robert Vos, was that the cotton for your jeans is often grown and manufactured in water-scarce areas, which places immense water stress on those regions. The study, commissioned by denim company, Guess?, Inc., noted that since denim supply chains span the world, the way harmful impacts could be diminished was to address water use and pollution with cotton farmers and fabric mills along each stop on the supply chain. (It adds up to more than three tons of water by weight.)

Although not easily carried out due to geographical differences, Dr. Vos recommended that Guess focus on “priority facilities” for denim manufacturers to make big water footprint reductions. These facilities are primarily located in water hot spots, such as Pakistan, China, India, Mexico and parts of California. Vos also recommended that cotton producers grow and use more organic cotton that generates less pollution, and for denim companies to incorporate more recycled materials into the production of fabrics

Jeans brand giant, Levi’s, has paired recycled threads and water footprint reductions with commerce. Levi’s recently started a venture in which they buy back used, branded denim from customers, after which the company resells it as “vintage denim” on a new on site called Levi’s Secondhand. This solution could reduce the water footprint (and carbon footprint) associated with each pair of jeans — and it might be here to stay.

[ZME Science]

Updated 5/25/2022