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World Water Day: initiatives by the textile and apparel industry

By Simone Preuss


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Clean water from the well. Credits: Martin J. Kielmann via Aid by Trade Foundation

Water is essential for life - for humans, animals and plants. However, one in four people in the world have no access to clean drinking water; many areas are drought-prone while others are wasting water. World Water Day on 22 March draws attention to these problems, but is also an opportunity for companies and organisations to highlight their efforts and initiatives. FashionUnited has put together a few.

Dockers supports drinking water supply

US clothing brand Dockers and the Philippine NGO Waves for Water provide clean water to people who have difficulty accessing water due to their isolated location or disasters, such as the earthquake in southern Turkey on 6 February 2023. Together, they have already helped more than 17,000 people. They have also installed water filtration systems in the Philippines and Ecuador, which prevent diseases and make life easier for residents.

Jeanologia pushes for cooperation

Spanish jeans tech company Jeanologia has been campaigning for saving water in the textile and clothing industry for three decades and initially swam against the tide, but the movement has since garnered support. The company calculated that the technologies it developed saved the planet 20,265,581 cubic metres of polluted water in 2023, which is equivalent to the consumption of a city the size of Brussels or more than 1,200,000 Olympic swimming pools. In addition, 97,895,304 kilograms of CO2 emissions were saved, which is equivalent to the amount of carbon absorbed by a forest of 9,800,000 trees.

“The global context urges us to unite and accelerate action, and on a date as significant as World Water Day, we want to offer our example as inspiration and invite other companies to join our Mission Zero,” comments Jeanologia founder and CEO Enrique Silla, urging for the industry’s complete dehydration and detoxification.

Linus sandal leaves only a small footprint

Brazilian fashion tech company Linus has developed a vegan plastic sandal whose production process is based on a closed-loop recycling system. It is made entirely from recyclable, micro-expanded PVC and consists of 70 percent renewable sources. The label is made of paper, which is attached to the sandals with a sisal cord, and they are packed in cardboard boxes, eliminating all carbon emissions.

“The use of water in the production of Linus is based on reuse and works in a closed system: the water used leaves the cooling tower, passes through the machines and then returns to the tower. And so the process is repeated throughout production,” explains Linus founder Isabela Chusid.

As the sandal is made from a single material, it is also 100 percent recyclable and can be disposed of with plastic waste. The brand collects sandals that are no longer used and disposes of them properly. “We have production waste that is reintegrated into the process, and each new Linus contains up to 20 percent recycled sandals,” says Chusid.

Marie-Stella-Maris donates to water projects

Amsterdam-based lifestyle brand Marie-Stella-Maris will donate more than 420,000 euros that it has collected throughout the year as a fixed contribution from the sale of each product, thus contributing to its mission “Access to clean water for all”.

It is also celebrating World Water Day with a special collaboration with art photographer Mous Lamrabat, who visited one of the water projects supported by the Marie Stella Maris Foundation in Kenya and captured his impressions in a series of photographs. Limited edition art posters from the series are available for 100 euros each from the brand’s web shop and own retail stores. All profits from the sale go back to the foundation.

Girl with clean drinking water. Credits: Lifestraw / Chris Brinlee

The Period Company focusses on education

Clean water is not only important for drinking, but also for cleansing the body to prevent infections and diseases. The Period Company from Singapore, together with water filter provider LifeStraw, offers sustainable menstrual products and comprehensive reproductive health education for girls around the world. In 2023, 1,756 adolescents in western Kenya have already been reached with washable period underwear and ongoing training and education.

Aid by Trade Foundation promotes water management

With its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) standard, the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) is committed to ensuring fairer access to clean drinking water and protecting this valuable resource. It therefore supports the construction of water, sanitation and hygiene projects in cotton growing regions. By the end of 2023, 142 wells and 478 latrines had already been built together with partner companies as part of these projects.

In Uganda, AbTF also worked with the Good Textiles Foundation and the cotton company MMP Agro to build bio-sand filters that purify water from existing sources in an uncomplicated and cost-effective manner. In total, around 1,000 CmiA farmers and around 10,000 other villagers benefit from the 1,000 organic sand filters, which have a lifespan of at least 15 years.

In addition, knowledge is imparted in training courses and practical measures for improved water management in cotton cultivation and daily life are offered. The Aid by Trade Foundation has developed specific, illustrated teaching materials with partners.

“Water scarcity is an existential threat to people in the cotton growing regions,” emphasises Tina Stridde, managing director of the Aid by Trade Foundation. “Climate change is threatening drinking water reserves and agriculture. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to teach smallholder farmers how to use this valuable resource consciously and sustainably.”

Aid by Trade Foundation