“Half the global population is expected to live in areas of water stress by 2025,” “Cape Town is facing Day Zero, no water,” “California is burning.” Similar messages are appearing more and more often. Is there any truth in them, or is it just propaganda? Unfortunately, according to a preponderance of scientific evidence, this is not propaganda, and in a few years at least half of us will feel the effects of limited water supplies in our lives as well.
What does it mean?
Water consumption is constantly increasing, not only for drinking water, but also for industrial use. This is driven by population increase, and by GDP growth in mature nations driving higher consumption. These are simple facts. Almost all sectors of human activity need water. The largest consumer of water is the oil industry, followed by the fashion industry.
You may wonder what the fashion industry has to do with water. Here’s a few facts to help you on your eco journey.
Most of us have predominantly cotton clothes in our closets, supplemented with clothing made of man-made fibers like rayon, and petroleum-based synthetic fibers like polyester that do not biodegrade. Man-made fibers account for up to 50% of the textile industry's production, while cotton accounts for up to 40%.
Imagine that you need up to 2720 liters of water to produce one single cotton shirt.
Now imagine how many tons of tee shirts are made every day in the world. Add other items of clothing such as sweatshirts, jeans, coats, shoes, etc., and you get to unimaginable volumes.
Is there an alternative?
Fortunately, there is a simple and proven alternative, that flourished on the planet for thousands of years, then was outlawed. Technical Hemp. Governments of the world actively suppressed the growing of hemp, a natural weed.
There is a difference between marijuana and hemp. They are twins, but not identical. Hemp only contains trace amounts of the psychoactive THC found in Marijuana, meaning, it can’t get you stoned. It has been used for thousands of years to make cloth, rope, twine, ship sails, and paper, to name a few. It went out of fashion in the late 30s when it was demonized by governments because of the effects of its twin, marijuana.
What is the link between cotton, hemp, and saving water? Cotton is one of the most water intensive crops, and needs more pesticides than any other single crop. Massive amounts of water are needed to grow cotton, and all that water runs over the crops taking the pesticide residue with it. Hemp fibers can be substituted for cotton fibers in the fashion industry. Hemp needs less than half the water to grow the same amount of harvested fiber than cotton, and because it is antimicrobial itself, it needs no pesticides.
Hemp is good for the planet, but it’s also good for you!
Hemp is naturally antimicrobial, which means it kills germs and doesn’t grow mold and mildew. This is why garments and shoes made from hemp stay fresh and odorless far longer than cotton, and don’t transmit bacteria. There’s more. Textiles made out of hemp are absorbent and wick sweat away from your skin. Hemp textile is thermoregulating so it will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The icing on the cake is high durability, hemp is the strongest natural fiber.
Wearing fashion textile made of hemp is a small contribution to the health of the planet and future generations, and it adds high-quality clothing with vital health characteristics to your closet.