How much water does the Fashion industry use? The water footprint of our clothes

May 15, 2022 2022-05-15 14:40

How much water does the Fashion industry use? The water footprint of our clothes

How much water does the Fashion industry use? The water footprint of our clothes

Water is a limited resource. Only 3% is fresh water, and the majority of it is frozen in the polar ice caps. To consume water consciously and efficiently, we must find out how much water is needed to make the clothes we wear. Do you know how much water is needed to produce the food you eat and the products you buy? Although this water use is invisible to us, it adds up to be much more than the amount that comes out of our taps.



This is a relatively new expression that was used for the first time in 2002 by Arjen Hoekstra from the UNESCO-IHE (Institute for Water Education).

It is an indicator that measures the volume of fresh water that a company uses in the production of goods or services. In the process the water could be consumed, evaporated or contaminated.

Now we know how the amount of water used in the production of goods that we consume is measured, let’s take a deeper look at the textile industry.



Every year more than 80,000 million garments are produced all over the world. 40% of these garments are made out of cotton and require a substantial amount of water.

It is estimated that to produce a single cotton T-Shirt 2,700 litres of water are needed. But cotton is not the worst option. When it comes to synthetic fibres these also require a large amount of water in the production process, and they release microplastics in each wash. For example, a pair of jeans is produced using 8,000 litres of water.



Although these numbers can be shocking, there is always something we can change in our daily routine to contribute to reducing our daily water footprint.

At Water Footprint they provide calculators so that anybody can calculate what affects their water footprint the most. With this information we can make decisions for a more responsible and sustainable use of water.

Being aware of our water footprint is essential to be able come up with efficient solutions, below are some ideas to help you save water.

Small steps to reduce your water footprint:

  • Vegetables have a very small water footprint (for example, a tomato requires 214 liters/kg)
  • Increase tea consumption and reduce coffee consumption (27 vs 132 liters/kg)
  • Eat vegan meat. Beyond Meat uses 5.14 liters of water to make a vegan burger, 58.6 times lower than the 301 liters needed for a beef one.

You can check the water footprint of many more products here.



When consuming a product or a service, it is important that we think about how much water it will use, and not just how much money it will cost. Remember to support ethical and sustainable brands that have transparent production processes and choose to recycle and look after the planet. At  D13C Studio we choose design and comfort without putting the welfare of animals, society or the planet at risk. You can find out more on our website in the “About” section.