Water Pollution

The textile industry is one of the largest polluters in the world. The World Bank estimates that almost 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles.

Some 72 toxic chemicals reach our water supply from textile dyeing. Many of these chemicals cannot be filtered or removed. The textile industry is second only to agriculture as the biggest polluter of clean water globally. Dyeing, rinsing, and treatment of textiles all use large amounts of fresh water.

Cotton production accounts for 2.6% of annual global water usage. A single T-shirt made from conventional cotton requires 2700 liters of water, and a third of a pound of chemicals to produce.

Millions of gallons of wastewater discharged by mills each year contain chemicals such as formaldehyde (HCHO), chlorine and heavy metals such as lead and mercury. These chemicals cause both environmental damage and human disease. Effluents released from mills are often at high temperatures and pH, which exacerbate the problem.

Conventional cotton is highly dependent on pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers to grow. In many regions, insects limit cotton production and some of these pests become resistant to pesticides. Not surprisingly, cotton pesticides and herbicides account for 10% of all agricultural chemicals and 25% of all pesticides used worldwide each year.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods are used in cotton growing regions to limit contamination of drinking water, but IPM is not enough. While many components of IPM have been implemented, the main insect control continues to be insecticides. Relying on pesticides has significant environmental liabilities of off-target drift, chemical residues and resistance.

Adding to the problem, recently the cotton seed bug, a pest that has not been found in the United States, was found for the first time in Florida. The USDA is concerned that severe infestations will decrease germination and threaten the ecosystem.

Textile manufacturing dyes release:

  • aromatic amines (benzidine and toluidine)
  • heavy metals
  • ammonia
  • alkalai salts
  • toxic solids and large amounts of pigments
  • chlorine, a known carcinogen

Untreated dyes cause chemical and biological changes in our aquatic system, which threaten species of fish and aquatic plants. The presence of these compounds also make practical water use unhealthy or dangerous.

The enormous amount of water required by textile production competes with the growing daily water requirements of the half billion people that live in drought-prone regions of the world. By 2025, the number of inhabitants of drought-prone areas is projected to increase to almost one-third of the world's population. If global consumption of fresh water continues to double every 20 years, the polluted waters resulting from textile production will pose a greater threat to human lives.

Benefits Demonstrated by e360t shirts!

  • e360t shirts use no cotton
  • e360t shirts use recycled resources, not new crops
  • e360t shirts save 8 gallons of fresh water per shirt from being polluted with dyes, pesticides and herbicides
  • e360t shirts are a small but meaningful way to show you are serious about sustainability.

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