We all know that the world is facing extreme freshwater scarcity - in fact over a billion people don’t have access to safe water.(1) Fashion is the second largest consumer and polluter of water due to the processing of raw materials, the amount of water used to manufacture clothes, and the microfibers that synthetics shed.(2)
Manufacturing textiles is very water intensive. Processes like cultivating crops, extracting and cleaning fibers, spinning them into yarn and weaving yarn into textiles all require water. When reporting water savings in the production of our garments, we use data that evaluates blue water consumption and water scarcity.
Blue water consumption measures water consumed during the production process, including water that is incorporated into the product or evaporated as part of the production process. This includes net water use (water input minus water output) and does not include green water (rain water) or gray water (household wastewater, minus toilet water).
Water scarcity measures the potential of water deprivation, considering both water consumption and scarcity/region.(3)
After the water is used in the manufacturing process, this often-polluted water is then sent back to our rivers, lakes and oceans. The World Bank estimates almost 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles.(4)
Synthetic clothes are made with plastic and when you wash synthetics they shed small plastic pieces called microfibers. Microfibers are too small to be filtered out by waste treatment plants, so they end up in our waterways and oceans by the billions. Once in the ocean, they act as pollution magnets that marine animals mistake for food, and which can eventually end up in our food.
We use recycled synthetics to lessen our environmental impact, but these potentially shed microfibers too. That’s why we're working hard to phase out all synthetics, recycled or not, from highly washed garments like tops, bottoms, and dresses. While we can’t phase out synthetics in all categories like swim, we are trying to find solutions to help you wear and wash all your clothes without adding to this mess. Right now, our solution is to gently hand wash your clothes in cold water–including your swimwear. You can also use a GuppyFriend bag to capture microfibers when you hand or machine wash your stuff. They're available right here on our website.