Four Ways to Clean Up Our Freshwater On World Water Day
Let’s state the obvious: water is life. Without it, we - and the blue planet we call home - would cease to exist. Planet Earth is 71% water, and our own human bodies are composed of up to 60% water!! But did you also know…
- Only 3% of all that water is freshwater
- Of that, 1.69% is groundwater (read on for why this is important)
- Global cotton production requires approximately 250 billion tons of water annually (theworldcounts.com)
The next time you shower, breath, have a glass of water or put on clothes, take a minute to give thanks to the water that is making it all happen.
World Water Day
March 22nd marks World Water Day and - similarly to International Day of Forests - we think every day should be a day to celebrate water. But as with our trees, it helps to have a specific “day” to gather around a singular cause, and we think water is pretty important! This year’s theme for World Water Day is “Groundwater: making the invisible visible.”
At first blush, this might seem unrelated to KOOSHOO. Why are we talking about water, and groundwater at that? We’re all obviously water lovers, obsessed with protecting our blue planet, but how does water fit in with plastic-free hair ties?
It turns out, our hair ties and water are inextricably linked… by a plant.
In order to make our hair ties and accessories plastic-free, we rely on organic cotton and natural tree rubber (instead of petroleum-based plastics or conventional cotton). Like all plants, both require water to grow. Water also plays an important role in turning raw cotton into a finished textile.
As it turns out, we’ve not been kind to our freshwater supply. In order to sustain large-scale agriculture around the world, we’ve continuously been drawing down aquifers and groundwater supplies, to a point where they are having a harder time recharging.
Big agriculture also overwhelms our freshwater systems with too many fertilizers and pesticides. And, the textile industry alone is a huge contributor of toxic chemical waste into freshwater systems. All of this contributes to poisoned water supplies and polluted groundwater. And, in an interesting, deeply ironic twist, we as a global population derive most of our liquid freshwater from groundwater (source: World Water Day).
“Groundwater is [also] critically important to the healthy functioning of ecosystems, such as wetlands and rivers. Overexploitation of groundwater can lead to land instability and subsidence, and, in coastal regions, to sea water intrusion under the land.” – World Water Day
So yes - water, groundwater, and our plastic-free hair ties are all interconnected, and we’re doing our best to tread lightly and keep this precious resource sustained, clean, and thriving. On this World Water Day, we’d like to share how at KOOSHOO, we’re working to ensure the water in places where our plastic-free hair ties and accessories are made remains clean and safe for those living and working around it.
Freshwater Use in Cotton Production
While the bulk of water consumption in cotton production for textiles occurs during the initial farming of the raw cotton, water is also used to “finish” cotton textiles. Importantly, water is used extensively during the dyeing stage, a necessary part of cotton’s journey to becoming a finished, coloured textile.
“Conventional textile dyeing and finishing of the raw fibre is both a thirsty and polluting business. It’s estimated that processing (including spinning, dyeing, finishing) a kilogram of fibre (not just cotton, but also polyester and other materials) requires 100 to 150 litres of water. – Common Objective, via The Sustainable Business Group’s 2015 report The State of the Apparel Sector - Water”
KOOSHOO commits to only sourcing certified organic cotton and GOTS- and OEKO TEX-certified, low-impact dyes for our plastic-free hair ties.
Why is clean water important for KOOSHOO?
You may be thinking, “But KOOSHOO! Your products are so small, compared to my t-shirt and jeans. Does it matter that you source low-impact dyes for your hair ties? They’re already plastic-free!”
The short answer: it does matter. In fact, it matters a lot.
We invite you to swim upstream with us and learn more about the importance of low-impact dyes and how they differ from conventional dyes. The differences are stark.
- Are insanely toxic for the people who handle them; for freshwater; and for the planet overall.
- Are water-hogs, requiring more water for adhering dyes to cloth and for rinsing.
- Require “mordants” (toxic substances that “fix” dyes to fabric).
Not only does sourcing certified textiles ensure protection of water from toxic chemicals, these certifications also come with certain work standards, important for protecting the people behind all of our cotton textile material.
Lack of safety protocols, unfair wages and hours, and toxic work environments are all rampant problems within the conventional textile industry. These are all reasons why we’re committed to doing everything we can to change this system for the better.
Read on for a bit more about the two certification programs we work with to help make this happen.
What is GOTS and why is it important?
GOTS (short for Global Organic Textile Standard) provides a processing standard for organic fibres - including organic cotton - that covers ecological and social criteria and is backed by independent certification (critical to ensure its legitimacy).
Originally a consortium of four global organizations, their goal was to amalgamate disparate processing standards for organic cotton. By joining efforts and backing one, harmonized standard, they have achieved international recognition with an acceptable standard across all major textile markets.
The Standard works to ensure that all textiles certified adhere to a number of features, centered largely around four key criteria: organic fibres, ecological and social, processing, and third-party certification. Read more about the features of GOTS here.
By working with cotton suppliers who are certified through GOTS, we can have reassurance that they are not only protecting freshwater supplies, but also the people working to create our plastic-free hair ties and accessories.
KOOSHOO’s plastic-free hair elastics, organic cotton scrunchies and multi-use twist headwraps are all made from GOTS-certified organic cotton and dyed at a GOTS-certified dye facility.
What is OEKO-TEX and why is it important?
Conventional dyes contain toxic chemicals that end up poisoning soil and waterways. In the textile industry alone, up to 200,000 tons of dye find their way into the environment every year - inhibiting plant growth and entering the food chain as carcinogenic agents. (read more in our blog post, Why it Matters That We Use Non-Toxic, Low-Impact Dyes)
OEKO-TEX began in March 1992 as a partnership between two European-based textile research institutes. At the time, there was growing concern from the public that textile production was having an impact on people and the environment. Out of that concern, the “Standard 100” was born, now a hallmark standard that signifies textile products are free from harmful substances (including toxic dyes).
Since then, the program has grown and now consists of 17 independent institutes in both Europe and Japan, working to develop methods to ensure textiles are harmless for human and environmental health.
All of the dyes we use to colour our plastic-free hair ties and hair accessories are certified low-impact by OEKO-TEX. This means that the dyes are free from toxic chemicals: good for your hair, the planet, and our freshwater resources.
At KOOSHOO, we are actively shaping the future we wish to live in. To us, this future is a place where there is enough fresh water for all beings, where we can sustain ourselves and thrive. These certifications are a small way for us as a company to ensure that this future becomes a reality, for us but also for the next several generations to come after us.
What can you do to keep our water clean & groundwater protected?
- Look for the certifications: organic, GOTS, and OEKO-TEX will tell you a lot about what’s not in your food, clothing, or plastic-free accessories (aka toxic chemicals).
- Support organic growing practices in all aspects of your life: from the food you consume to what you put on your body (or your hair), it’s time to go organic.
- Invest in brands that are using low-impact or water-less dyeing technologies for their products. If you don’t see this information, ask questions - typically companies who are engaging in truly sustainable practices will be happy to chat.
- Support initiatives working to protect freshwater supplies at their source. For example, groups like Clean Water Action are working to protect aquifers from the oil and gas industry.
How do you give thanks for and protect your freshwater?