World Water Day 2021: The Water Footprint of Your Clothes

How we are working to help the world wear better and to protect precious water resources 

On Monday 22nd March, we celebrate World Water Day - a global movement that raises awareness of the universal water crisis.

This year, World Water Day is highlighting what water means to people, how we value it, and how we can protect this essential life resource.

We all have a water footprint; we all use large amounts every day.

Many of us try to reduce our water use by having shorter showers or turning the tap off when brushing our teeth.

But, many people don't realise that the majority of our water footprint doesn’t come from our taps - it comes from the things we buy and use every day.

Books, furniture, cars, electronics all use huge amounts of water during their production.

You may not know this but our clothes are one of the largest consumers of water on the planet. For years, what we wear has been using more than its fair share of water.

A typical pair of jeans takes 7,500 litres of water to produce, equal to what a person drinks in 10 years.

THE AMOUNT OF WATER CONSUMED BY OUR CLOTHES IS JUST STAGGERING 

Textiles production (including cotton farming) uses around 93 billion cubic metres of water annually.

This is enough water to keep the combined populations of India and China hydrated for nearly 42 years1. These are countries that produce much of the worlds cotton and today, have significant water stress in many areas.

Beyond fibre production, the use of washing machines in apparel manufacturing is estimated to require an additional 20 billion cubic meters of water per year globally.

Unless we find more ways to reduce our consumption, individually and collectively, the increasing pressure that we are putting on finite water resources will become unbearable. In many parts of the world, it already is. 


Put simply, we have to use less water and stop polluting it. Keeping our clothes longer and buying less of them will help greatly. Putting water consumption
information on garment price tags would really help consumers make good decisions. 

MARK NICHOLS, CEO, XEROS TECHNOLOGY GROUP

Encouragingly sustainability is an increasingly used mantra across almost all sectors, especially fashion.

Understanding these impacts, many consumers are moving away from “fast fashion” - the mass-production of cheap clothing which is worn very few times and then thrown away.

A recent article in CNN titled “The world is paying a high price for cheap clothes,” highlights how fast fashion is harming our planet.

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Shoppers are starting to embrace the growing movement of “slow fashion”, which focuses on sustainable materials and transparent, ethical labour and manufacturing.

As consumers and industry look to reduce these impacts, they are seeking innovative solutions that protect the environment.

Integrating Xeros' technologies in apparel production equipment means the environmental impact of the clothes produced is dramatically improved.

Ramsons Garment Finishing Equipments PVT Ltd, the commercial partner of Xeros for garment finishing equipment in South Asia, explain why embedding these innovative technologies into their machines will have a significant impact on the fashion world.

Across India and South Asia, garment manufacturers are actively looking for new and innovative technologies to help us protect our environment, which is under extreme pressure from the effects of a changing climate.


By embedding Xeros technologies in our equipment our clients will save water, energy and reduce harmful emissions. It represents the best option for sustainability.
SUNDER BELANI, MANAGING DIRECTOR RAMSONS

Ramsons have installed Xeros-enabled machines into ABA Group's operations in Bangladesh. ABA are a supplier of clothing to international brands including American Eagle, H&M and Zara. 

Water consumption in the Laundry World

Laundry, an everyday chore, has a huge impact on the environment.

Doing just 5 loads of washing per week in a modern domestic washing machine uses 13,000 litres of water2 in one year.

This amount amplifies when you start thinking about laundry on a commercial scale. Water intensive sectors - hotels, commercial laundries, caterers - have been keen to cut their consumption for many years.

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Xeros have a water-friendly solution, which can reduce water use by up to 80 per cent.

At the heart of these machines is XOrbTM Technology.

Reusable, recyclable, and safe, XOrbs gently clean and protect clothes using less water and chemicals. They mix into the XDrumTM at the start of the wash and gently remove dirt and stains like tiny little hands. XOrbs also dramatically increase the life of garments and fabrics making them look much better for longer.

When the wash cycle is completed, the XOrbs automatically go back inside the XDrum and are ready to be used again for your next wash.

Georges, the commercial laundry partner of Xeros in France, specialise in the cleaning and maintenance of workwear.

They have plenty of high-profile customers including SNCF, Renault Design and Air France and process the outfits of 25,000 employees using eleven Xeros-powered commercial washing machines.

Karine Da Silva, Chairwoman of Georges, describes what water means to her.


Almost a quarter of humanity lives in countries with physical water scarcity. And by 2030, that number could double. The world could face a lack of available water of about 2.700 billion cubic meters by 2030 with demand 40% higher than available.


Our industrial laundry activity uses water as its primary resource. As we created Georges, it was essential to design a system that would allow us to save this natural and precious resource as much as we could.


We chose Xeros-enabled washing machines to save up to 80% water for each cleaning cycle .


By making this choice, we allow our customers to join Georges in the fight for water conservation and more generally in a CSR approach.

Pollution from our Washing Machines

As well as using less water, World Water Day is also an opportunity to acknowledge that washing machines contribute to polluting our rivers and oceans.

Every time we wash our clothes, they shed hundreds of thousands of tiny fibres known as microfibres. Washing machines currently don't have filters to catch them, so they end up in wastewater.

Globally, an estimated 500,000 tonnes of microfibres enter wastewater systems every year and around 280,000 tonnes escape to the marine environment.

You can read more about microplastics and how to stop your clothes polluting the ocean here.

Again, Xeros has a practical solution to stop nearly all microfibres from getting into our seas. XFiltraTM, an innovative washing machine filtration technology, can now be easily integrated by all washing machine manufacturers.

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This filter is available for both domestic and commercial washing machines and is designed to be simple and easy-to-use.

XFiltra has been identified as the most effective device at preventing microfibre release from washing machines

Research conducted by the University of Plymouth tested six devices designed to capture microfibres: three washing machine filters plus laundry bags and balls, on mixed wash loads of synthetic and synthetic/cotton blend garments.

The Xeros filter, which is designed to be installed in washing machines by manufacturers, performed best.

The prototype XFiltra used in the study caught 78% of all microfibres but the latest generation XFiltra designs capture more than 90% of all microfibres.

Read more about how Xeros captures more microfibres than any other device.

What next?

World Water Day is the perfect opportunity to consider where all the world’s water is going and where it should be going.

It’s a moment to realise that safe drinking water belongs to thirsty people instead of the new garment that we may not need. It’s a moment to realise that doing laundry is contributing to plastic pollution in our oceans.

Solving the water crisis is daunting and often the statistics are frightening.

But the solution truly starts with us as individuals, and we can all play a part by simply buying fewer clothes and making the ones that we have last longer.

Xeros and our partners are working together to help the world wear better. 

Here’s what water means to more of our partners

Jiangsu Sea-lion Machinery Co., Ltd is a market-leading manufacturer of commercial washing machines and laundry equipment in the Chinese market, and a commercial partner of Xeros.

Aaron Zhang, Deputy General Manager, at Sea-Lion describes what water means to him. 

We need water to live. Water is one of our basic living needs. Besides that, we need water almost in every aspect of daily life, like working, transportation and entertainment.

As leaders in the laundry business, we advocate that customers and partners choose water-saving technologies. Our company develops products with energy-saving features. We work with our customers to meet their needs and those of our planet.

Agemon Hightech Ecology is a licenced distributor of Xeros Technologies in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Manager, Tomáš Rolínek, explains what he does to conserve water, one of the rarest substances on Earth.

Water is the basic essence of life. Without water, we would not be able to survive for more than 7 days. Water is simply a miracle.

 

Our company PROZAC stavebni is very close to modern technologies. Therefore, we decided to create its own division of water and energy-saving high-tech technologies - Agemon High Tech Ecology, which focusses on technologies that significantly save water and energy.

 

We are extremely proud that we have managed to establish cooperation with Xeros, which produces highly efficient industrial and at the same time ecological washing machines, which can save up to 80% water, 50% energy and 50% washing detergents.

 

In this case, it is 100% true that ecological high-tech technologies can also be highly beneficial and economical for individual companies.

References:

1. An average person in India drinks 2.17 litres. The combined population of India and China is 2.81 billion.

2. A modern washing machine uses 50 litres of water per cycle