Vicunha Water Footprint: knowledge to the textile chain

06 de Maio de 2020

In partnership with Movimento ECOERA, a pioneer in integrating sustainability in the fashion, design and beauty industries in Brazil, we share with the market the results of the groundbreaking project “Vicunha Water Footprint”, which utilises its own metrics to survey the consumption of water in the life cycle of a pair of jeans in the country – from the planting of cotton crops, all the way to the end consumer.

See the methodology and detailed numbers:

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Methodology of the Vicunha Water Footprint Project

 

Based on the global methodology of the Water Footprint Network, the study reveals that a pair of jeans in Brazil results in the average consumption of 5,196 litres of water. The calculation was based on three Water Footprint indicators which, combined, comprise the total Water Footprint: the Green Footprint, which involves the volume of rainwater utilized by the plants in the agricultural processes of the production chain, the Blue Footprint, relative to consumption from freshwater springs, underground surfaces and that which is not returned to the same catchments, and, finally, the Gray Footprint, referring to the volume of water necessary for nature to assimilate the wastewater returned to the environment. According to the survey, the total volume consumed by one pair of jeans corresponds to 41% green water, 11% blue water and 48% gray water.

Separated into stages, use breaks down as such in each link of the production chain: 4,247 liters in farming, 127 litres in the weaving process, 362 litres in the phases of washing and manufacturing and 460 litres in the at-home washing carried out by the end consumer.

 

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“It's important to emphasize that the amount of green water is one of the most expressive in calculations that include the agricultural process. In farming, for example, when analysed on an individual basis, it has been noted that the Green Water Footprint corresponds to 50% of the spent water, being that 92% of the water utilised in the farming of Brazilian cotton comes from rain, thus not representing an environmental impact in this consumption,” explains Claudio Bicudo, CEO of the H2O Company.

Meanwhile, the end consumer corresponds to the second largest consumption of water in the total calculation when considering Blue Water Footprint. In this stage of the cycle, the Grey Water Footprint was not considered in the survey. “The consumer's grey water footprint is quite significant though not exclusively associated with jeans, but actually any piece that we use a washing machine to clean. Still, we know that an effort must be made to raise awareness among consumers to reduce waste, which is high, in this stage,” he concludes.

To analyse each phase, Vicunha and ECOERA, along with the H2O Company and Iniciativa Verde, embarked on a journey in search of data representing the reality in Brazil and now the report is shared with the entire market, the industry and society as a whole, serving as just the beginning of a great movement with the objective of decreasing the environmental impact of the fashion industry and promoting transparency in the sector, uniting the main players to create Brazilian benchmarks in the sustainable management of water.

“We need to use fashion to address pressing issues and there's nothing better than an iconic piece like a pair of jeans, part of every Brazilian's wardrobe, to awaken a common reflection on the environmental impact caused by the chain, combining all the links in favor of practices that are increasingly more responsible, transparent and ethical. We share this result with social agents so that, together, we can create the sustainable management of this resource that is so vital to our existence,” says Chiara Gadaleta, founder of ECOERA.

 

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Chiara Gadaleta (Movimento ECOERA) and Marcel Imaizumi (Vicunha)

 

The project allows us to identify the current situation of each link in the chain, enabling the creation of goals for the reduction of water consumption and forms of compensation through socio-environmental projects like soil remediation, the conservation of water supplies, carbon stock and the creation of ecological corridors for biodiversity throughout the entire jeanswear production chain.

“Located in Northeast Brazil, a region where water supplies are extremely scarce, Vicunha has always been greatly concerned about the responsible use of water. With this project, we have a specific tool for continuous management, with the monitoring of actions, the definition of goals to increase water efficiency and the evaluation of results,” says Marcel Imaizumi, executive director of Operations, Supply Chain and New Business for Vicunha.

Visit @amodapelaagua and www.amodapelaagua.com.br to become a water guardian. Embrace this cause!