While the rest of the country is covered in snow, here in California we are entering a drought.
When Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency last month, I, along with the rest of the state, started investigating ways to save water. Shorter showers and less frequent toilet flushing seemed like a good first step. But I also had a hunch that some of the main water culprits might be in industry. It turns out it was even worse than I thought! One example - compared to saving 12 gallons of water when you cut your shower time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes, you could save over 1,800 gallons of water by cutting out a steak or two from your diet. That's right - farms use 1,857 gallons of water to get just 1 pound of beef!
Recently, I also learned about another water waster - denim. Cotton in general, actually. According to waterfootprint.net, cotton is a water intensive crop, made worse when additional water is needed to treat heavily fertilized fields. More water is used in the dye and manufacturing process of cotton and other fabrics. So much, in fact, that one pair of jeans requires 2,900 gallons of water!
I know this may not come as a surprise for many of you worldly folks out there, but in times of drought this was a special reminder for me. As someone who attempts to make my own clothes not just for fun but to cut down on the environmental effects of shipping and the social costs of factory labor, I rarely take the time to consider the sources of my fabrics. As we all know, finding the perfect fabric is hard enough, let alone trying to track down the origins of said material!
Recently, websites like I Give 2 Hoots and Handmaker's Factory have sought to highlight ways that we can be ethical sewists. I have considered my options for organic cotton and other fabrics, but I would like to learn more.
Does anyone have any knowledge to share about how we can minimize the environmental impact of our clothing? Any good sources of low-impact fabric? Tips of the trade?