Jeans or Food: the Impact of Producing Jeans on Water Availability

Interested in understanding the impact of owning 7 pairs of jeans? This excerpt from our upcoming book provides some insight into the affect of the consumption of jeans on regional self sufficiency.

“Jeans don’t drink, but about 2,900 gallons (11,000 liters) of water is used in the creation of a pair of jeans.

In today’s world trade, the makings of jeans may travel three times around the world from origin to owner—from growth of cotton, to processing in a different place, to weaving cloth in yet another place, to a place of sewing and manufacture, to a place of sale, to an owner. And, if not sold, there is even more travel for discounting, remanufacture into cotton-batt insulation, or other products. Going on 15 million New Englanders, times 7 pairs of jeans, times 2,900 gallons… That works out to 304.5 billion gallons of “virtual water” in our jeans! This is equivalent to about 5% of the annual rainfall on all of New England—in turn that amount equals about 100% of our annual fresh water supply for humans.

“So what? As a net importer of clothing and food, New England is saving water at the expense of other bioregions that are short of water for their people—not to mention all the other species in their web of life. If the virtual water content of just our New England jeans could be cut in half, enough fresh water to support over 7 million people for a year would become available. And jeans don’t eat. Half of our New England virtual water from jeans could become:185,250 tons of eggs or …” —Phil Loheed

We just invite you to think about this when you add another pair of jeans to your collection.

For further explanation:

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