Although clean water is vital for life, in many countries it is in short supply. This is why our goal is to reduce the amount of water, energy and chemicals used when manufacturing our clothes.
A lot of water is used to produce clothes – it can take around 11,000 litres of water to make just one pair of jeans. Most textile factory processes involve water, and energy and chemicals are also needed to produce garments.
For this reason, it is important that any water used be treated before it is returned to waterways. Protecting water ecosystems is key to sustainable development.
We at KappAhl work actively across our entire production chain to reduce our impact on the environment and find more sustainable ways of making garments. When it comes to sustainable production methods, there is a real need for knowledge. KappAhl makes a tangible difference here by providing training and taking action.
Co-operation key to results
Where water is concerned, we believe that co-operation is key to achieving results. We are part of the Sweden Textile Water Initiative and work to educate and support our suppliers in their efforts to reduce their water, energy and chemical use in production. This began as a co-operation between KappAhl, two industry partners, Stockholm International Water Institute and Sida, and has since grown to include roughly thirty Swedish textile companies.
This project is active in China, India, Bangladesh, Turkey and Ethiopia. In recent years, its supplier participants have cut back their water needs by seven per cent – the equivalent of over 360 million litres of water. That is the same as the daily water needs of more than 3.5 million people.
Simple measures make a difference
In the Sweden Textile Water Initiative and the Partnership for Cleaner Textile, we train and support our suppliers with simple, cost-effective methods that save huge amounts of water, electricity and chemicals. These are investments that pay off quickly.
This can be a multi-step process, depending on the suppliers’ previous knowledge and the opportunities at hand. The first step consists of simple measures, such as repairing leaking pipes and making holes in the ceiling to allow daylight into the factory space.
We then initiate slightly bigger projects, which may include putting steam to use or replacing costly diesel generators. The final stage involves providing suppliers with the training and support they need to think long term and invest in new technology that offers considerable water and energy savings.
By educating factory managers and workers about sustainable methods, many easy solutions – such as sealing leaks and re-using water – can also be taken into the home and society at large.
Sustainable materials save resources
Cotton may be both popular and in demand, but growing it requires a lot of water and chemicals. We are active members of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which works to minimise the impact cotton growing has on the environment by reducing water and pesticide use. Our goal is for all of our cotton to be sustainably grown by 2020.
We also make an effort to use more recycled materials, such as polyester and wool, as well as materials that can be produced with less water and energy, such as lyocell. We pay close attention to new technology as it develops, as well as sustainable, resource-efficient methods for textile production.
You have power
Much of a garment’s overall environmental footprint comes from the home – through washing, drying and ironing. As a customer, there are a number of simple steps that you can take to minimise your water and energy footprint.
For example, you can occasionally air your clothes instead of washing them, choose good detergents, wash at a lower temperature or avoid tumble drying, and also recycle your old textiles with us. It’s good for your wallet as well as the environment!