The dyeing process isnt the only major water consumer, but growing crops and many other industrial processes consume significant quantities of water, assert Pratibha Thapa and Preeti Sodhi Thakur.
Scarcity usually encourages better management of resources. Water resources are getting scarcer due to intensifying demand. Water is not only used in the domestic perspective, but also in agriculture and industry in the production of commercial goods, from food to fabric. Water security is one of the most substantial and fastest-growing social, political and economic challenges faced today. It is also a fast-unfolding environmental crisis. According to a recent research of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 47 per cent of the worlds population will face severe water shortages by 2030. This supply-demand imbalance is mainly caused by population growth, urbanisation, climate change and unsustainable use. Beside the apparent implications on the environment and the community directly affected, water scarcity will also generate problems for countries economies if nothing is done.
Water is a precious natural resource that needs to be conserved. Water footprint is the amount of water used by individuals and manufacturers either directly or indirectly.
- Direct water usage indicates using water directly for drinking, taking a shower or washing.
- Indirect use is the water needed to grow or produce the various consumer items. For example, the water footprint of a cotton t-shirt is 2,600 litres and covers the water used from cotton plantation until the t-shirt is put on the stores shelves, passing through all processes of carding, spinning, weaving, dying, printing and transport.
The water footprint concept was coined in 2002 by Arjen Hoekstra, a professor of water management at University of Twente in the Netherlands. He stated that "The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business. Water use is measured in terms of water volumes consumed (evaporated or incorporated into a product) and/or polluted per unit of time. A water footprint can be calculated for a particular product, for any well-defined group of consumers (for example, an individual, family, village, city, province, state or nation) or producers (for example, a public organisation, private enterprise or economic sector). The water footprint is a geographically explicit indicator, showing not only volumes of water use and pollution, but also the locations." The water footprint includes green water, blue water and grey water footprints.
- Green water footprint: Volume of rainwater consumed during the production process.
- Blue water footprint: Volume of surface and groundwater consumed as a result of the production of a good or service.
Water footprint of the textile industry
The textile industry is the third largest consumer of water in the world. It uses huge amount of water throughout all processing operations like dyeing, finishing, fabric preparation steps, including desizing, scouring, bleaching and mercerising, etc. The following diagrams show that water use varies between different textile operations.
The dyeing process isnt the only major water consumer, but growing crops and many other industrial processes consume significant<