One less wash load is all we are asking for!

Look at a world map, and most what you see are oceans. We know that about 70% of our planet’s surface is water. More water than we would ever need, right?

Unfortunately, that is far from the truth. Only a small fraction of all water is freshwater which we can use. The water we drink, bathe in, and water our crops with.

In fact, less than 1% of the world’s water is both fresh and available, and that water is not distributed evenly.(i)

 

This may put in better context the urgency to lower our demand and in many cases, the wasteful practice of this precious resource.

 

Changing our mindset

The good news is that we are becoming better at changing destructive habits. Look for instance at single use plastics. In just a few years people everywhere became aware of the problem and it has become something of a social taboo to use single-use plastics. Finding alternatives is not that hard, as we learned. The EU is currently working to ban the sale of single use plastic products such as utensils, straws and plates. (ii) And San Francisco banned the sale of plastic bags over ten years ago!(iii)

Now, in this way, we need to understand and stop the misuse of water.

Just a year ago, for the first time ever, a major metropolitan city, Cape Town, neared Day 0 of a count down when the city would run out of water. (iv) Capetonians narrowly avoided this by an aggressive campaign to cut down the usage of water. Citizens were placed on a tight water usage limit and are since then on a 50 liters per person quota.  What this did however was bring to light the misuse of water and pointing out that it can’t be taken for granted.

California suffers from similar water shortages as South Africa. In 2016, the daily per capita average use was 321 liters per person. (iv) By some estimates the California ground water might be depleted in a decade or two. Why not start a similar campaign there, today?

Film from South Africa and water conservation strategies with 50-liter water quota. (iv)

Some water conserving tactics that Capetonians implemented consisted of showering while standing in a bucket and then using the “grey” water saved for flushing toilets. Others included recycling water machine water and limiting toilet flushes.

 

 

Do product choices affect the water crisis?

On the production level, the textile industry is by its nature very water intensive. Water is used for cleaning the raw material and for many flushing steps during the whole production. Polygiene works with our brands to best reuse and minimize the amount of water we are using in our production process to the best of our ability. We will continue to be as transparent as possible and continue to minimize our water consumption as best we can.

But studies show that the biggest impact a product has in its lifecycle, about two thirds, comes after the purchase is made.(v)  It is to a large degree up to you to decide how much water and energy your product will cost.

The first principle is of course to be selective and only buy what you really need, and then buy high quality. We place a high value and focus on providing a product that will last. In fact, Polygiene will last the lifetime of your product guaranteed, or we will refund you the amount. No questions asked. Quality means it is more likely to last many seasons, years or even generations in some cases. Extending the life of clothing by an extra nine months of active use would reduce carbon, waste and water footprints by around 20-30% each and cut resource costs by 20%.(vi)

Another tip is to look for a Polygiene hangtag. With Polygiene Stays Fresh technology, your gear will not only stay fresh when you are using it, but when you decide to pass on your gear to the next owner, either by a second-hand store or sale, it will be as fresh as when you first purchased it. Polygiene Stays Fresh Technology is a lifetime guarantee and will not wash out.

Polygiene branding examples: permanent mark, care label, and hangtag.

 

What more can you do to help save water?

All of us who manufacture clothes and other gear use something called a lifecycle analysis on how long products will last. Basically, a washer machine is used to simulate wear and tear. This is essentially the same washer machine as the one in your home. So, every time you wash your garments, you don’t just use up water, but also effectively crash test your clothes.

Washer machines have cut about ½ the amount of water they use in the last 20 years but on average, still use about 50-100 liters (15-30 gallons) per wash load. The typical American family of four runs about 300 loads each year. Most effective and helpful to reduce your water consumption as well as extend the life of your jeans, shirt or other apparel, is to just clean spots and stains as needed. Do so until you find that you need to launder them and then make sure to run a full wash load.

 

 

Fact box: 10 tips to save water

Just as we make a priority in separating our trash and bringing a reusable bag to the grocery story, making these water-saving practices part of your daily routine can go a long way to minimizing our water loss.

  1. Spot clean clothes when possible and launder only when necessary. Then be sure to run a full wash load.
  2. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth or soap your hands.
  3. Take a shorter shower (and don’t take a bath).
  4. Avoid buying water in single-use plastic bottles; keep a bottle of water in your refrigerator so you don’t waste water waiting for it to turn cold.
  5. Harvest rainwater to water your lawn.
  6. Wash your car at the car wash where water is
  7. Repair any leaks and/or taps that drip.
  8. Install water-efficient faucets, showerheads, toilets and appliances.
  9. Rinse vegetables and fruits in a stopped sink, not under running water.
  10. Run your dishwasher at full load.

 

Citations
i.
The Economist (March 2, 2019), “Special Report: Water”
ii.
European Commission (May 28, 2018), “Single-use plastics: New EU rules to reduce marine litter” http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-3927_en.htm
iii.
1bagatatime.com (2018), “San Francisco Bag Ban” https://1bagatatime.com/learn/guide-bag-bans/bag-ban-san-francisco/
iv.
The Guardian (June 5, 2018), “Day Zero: how Cape Town stopped the taps from running dry” (YouTube – Film) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9tF4vEHjaE
v.
“The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is a registered UK Charity” (2012), “Valuing our clothes: The evidence base.”www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/VoC%20FINAL%20online%202012%2007%2011.pdf
vi.
University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing, Cambridge (2006), “Well Dressed?”
vii.
www.home-wter-works.org (2011), “Crisp, Clean Clothes Without the Waste” https://www.home-water-works.org/indoor-use/clothes-washer