Friday, August 03, 2012

2,900 gallons of water

It takes 2,900 gallons of water to produce one pair of jeans.


Each of these wee bitty jugs represents a gallon of water.  This shows 1,400 gallons....

This gets us up to 2,800 gallons...


Now, to get up to 2,900 gallons, you'll need to fill your bathtub to the brim.  TWICE...

AND, the average woman in the US owns 7 pair of jeans.

Just in case you wanted another motivation to cut back on the size of your wardrobe!

23 comments:

  1. So many reasons to change the way we shop. I appreciate the information you share.

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  2. Hmmm, must go count my jeans and reconsider buying a new one I was eyeing :-) Thanks for the info. J.

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  3. Goodness, that is a startlingly high number! How do manufacturers allow these types of inefficiencies? I guess now I understand why jeans cost $200...


    www.aspireinspireblog.com

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  4. Thank you, Janice, both for yesterday's post and today's. Add to those thousands of gallons to produce a pair of jeans (assuming some of that water is needed to grow the cotton -- highly water intensive) is the cost in water of washing jeans after each wear. Friends in Luxembourg host American college students every year for their semester abroad. Not only are these friends horrified by the numbers of pieces of clothing each of these girls bring, but that they only wear a pair of jeans once and then wash them. We waste an awful lot of resources cleaning thing that don't need cleaning. Again -- thank you for this post and the last one. Has sparked a wonderful and needed discussion. Susan P.S. Hoping you have fully recovered!

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  5. Hmmm... this does not motivate me, but it does make me feel guilty.

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    1. To be fair, I am motivated to think about how I'm spending my dollars by your 333 project, and how you put things together. How can I apply that to my wardrobe? There are lots of reasons to buy less clothing, including planning for retirement, but water usage won't be one of them for me. However, this did motivate me to think about total water usage, including the products that I purchase. I do care about that, and I care if others have enough water. The average american water usage per year is 505,000 gallons, the most of any country. That's not just household use, but cooling power plants (40% plus), agriculture (37%), and so on. One new car is 39,000 gallons. Multiply that by a new car every few years. Eating meat and sugar also contributes a significant amount to water usage. Even producing one glass of wine may use about 18 gallons. One latte takes about 53 gallons of water. It takes nearly 2 gallons of water to produce one plastic water bottle! The good news is that water usage is down from the 70s due to efficiencies. So, in the grand scheme of things, buying a pair of jeans or two doesn't make a huge difference. No more than eating a slice of chocolate cake on any particular day has a big effect on my weight. We consume too much of everything. So, I am going to get that new pair of jeans in the color that I like, BUT I'm going to make more of an effort to not waste food, turn off the lights more, and not buy anything that I end up not using (too small, uncomfortable, etc.).

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    2. Balance in all things... clearly, you're well-enough informed about the impact of your actions that you can make intelligent choices. The meat and sugar question is a serious one, and I'm glad you reminded me of it, right before lunch!
      I appreciate the comment. Your statistics help a lot!

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  6. I am quite motivated and as alluded to yesterday, the shopping fast has been a relevation. I donated dozens of items to a local charity resale shop, and the few items I purchased are all high quality that I expect to wear for years. Thanks for the timely reminder in the midst of this terrible drought. Hope you have recovered and have a nice weekend.

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  7. Wow...hard to imagine that much water for ONE pair of jeans. I own five pairs; three that fit me now..and two that will fit again when I lose the extra 10 lbs I have gained in the last 2 years. Incredible motivation to not buy jeans for a long while and use what I have.

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  8. What a eye-opening graphic!

    I hate jeans as a fashion statement, so I am very glad this does not apply to me.

    I associate jeans with manual labor. No matter how you dress them up, they were the uniform of ranch hands and men who dig ditches for a living before they became "fashionable".

    I own a single pair that I have had for over 10 years and wear for the rare time I need to do grub work. That's it.

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  9. As someone who lives in a drought area (central Texas), this factoid rings home. Our total water usage per month is less than 2,900 gallons, which includes near-daily showers for two people, running the dishwasher, three loads of laundry per week, and watering the lawn and flowers twice each week. We are very, very conservative water and sort of delight in the challenge to use even less.

    I am so shocked that our total consumption for two adults working at home equates to one pair of jeans. It's always a good idea to know how much of our resources are spent on creating lifestyle choices for consumers. I think the main lesson from this post is, "Think, THINK before you buy."

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  10. I can talk about water at this moment. You see, I recently went a couple of weeks...actually, nearly a month...either without it entirely, or in a limited flow to the house. I have an ancient/vintage bungalow which has been in our collective family since earliest 20th century and we thought we had all the plumbing issues conquered...but, NOT. Old house, old town, old pipes, old municipal sewer/water systems. As a joint effort we finally fixed the problems but not before I was literally camping out at my house, and I am not a camper, have never been camping, etc. Life becomes very bared and pared down when you have a sudden depletion of a resource we take for granted, like electricity or WATER. WATER...immediately faced with how to take care of kids, dogs, babies, adults in what could quickly become an unsanitary environment--the toilets don't work, you can't bathe, you can't wash dishes but, of course if you don't have access to bottled water, you can't sustain life, period. It was hell, and I can't imagine what it's like to live like that continuously, in a war-torn country or in an area where a natural disaster has occurred, God-forbid a terrorist attack or whatever. I actually did live temporarily on the Gulf Coast at one time in my younger life and I recall watching on TV about a hurricane/tornado that missed us in Texas and went on to cause great destruction in Florida. After a couple/few days with limited water, in hot weather, the dirty and weary storm victims had flaring tempers and were no doubt stressed and scared; decent people like you and I were fighting over a delivery of bottled water, going at each other and the delivery people, who were only the messengers. It was an awful sight, but I get it; I get what it is to have no hot water, and I totally get what it is to have only a trickle of water, and then no water at all. I happen to live in "earthquake country" and I now know for sure what I am faced with if, for weeks or more, we find ourselves alive and safe but without basic amenities and resources amid rubble and breakdown of infrastructure. I can see what some people will become in a desperate circumstance. And I can tell you, I do not want to be unprepared as I have been. I have wasted water all of my life because I have primarily lived in a rich agricultural zone which has supposedly unlimited well water; it doesn't have to be trucked in from anywhere, as it's right here. The bottom line is we do need to think about these things. We need to be mindful...not fearful...and responsible. It looks like one way to be responsible is to continue to inform ourselves about how we're living in the world.

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  11. If I could just add an addendum to my comment, as I'm so fired up after reading Janice's post, it's obvious we want to do the right things; right the wrongs. For how long, none of us have really understood about how the food gets on our tables or how the clothes we wear are made. We turn on the faucet and, voila, we have water. We turn on a lamp, and we have light. We peepee in the toilet and whoosh, it's flushed to God knows where (but who has cared?). We want hot tea, and we turn on the microwave or range/oven/stove; ah, warmth, comfort. It's cold outside, and on goes the furnace; it's not like we went outside and had to chop wood each day, for our survival. When life was simpler, we raised the sheep, we spun the wool, we made the garment. We raised the chickens, ate the eggs we collected and killed the creature ourselves to feed our families. We raised the horse and fed the horse, and he's who transported us to town in a wagon that was built from wood we felled on our own land. It's only now getting clearer and clearer in my head how far we've strayed as a species from the land. I have enough of a hard time just getting the grocer in my small town to at least stock some organic food in the absence of a farmer's market...crazy because, again, I live in an agricultural county. It doesn't help my carbon footprint if I have to drive 15 miles to the nearest city which DOES have a farmer's market. We've been duped and we've been unaware but, as awareness grows, only we can force change, by being the change. This is what I'm learning, and trying to implement. I pity the succeeding generations if we can't and won't. Wonderful things happened with progress...you could take a train or fly or drive somewhere to see a loved one whom, in "olden days," you might have never seen again once you'd left a place. Childhood diseases were eradicated. We all know the stories. And we've just gone along for the ride because we're all just living our lives. At times, yes, we long for a simpler life, but not to the degree of our forefathers, who often wore themselves down with the hard work of a homestead, or in factories with undesirable working conditions (horrible to think it still exists, in these very clothes we buy from that kind of manufacturing). As in all things, where is the balance? How and why do we keep losing the balance? Why seven or ten jeans in the closet...just because we can? It's glut; I see it right here, inside my small, bursting-at-the-seams home. And, as illustrated in this post today, at what cost? Each person has to look at their own corner of the world and try to at least focus on that, because the bigger picture is just too big. The earth's problems...the problems of population...are just too overwhelming otherwise. End of soap box oratory, but these posts have really caused me to think, although I was already thinking a lot about it; but it becomes about doing, and not just thinking. Thanks for the opportunity to vent; it's so troubling.

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    1. I have been using the thrift stores to find the foundational pieces that I want from this website. And I have an aunt with great style who has been passing things to me for years

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  12. Wow...really interesting stats! Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Doesn't the average bathtub hold 40-70 gallons of water? 2900 gals would be like filling your bathtub about 60 times!!!

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  14. Janet, This confused me at first also. The filling the bathtub twice (approx. 100 gallons) is to get from the 2800 gallons depicted in the graphics to the 2900 gallons for the jeans. HTH

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  15. Oh, careful reading this time does take away the confusion! Thanks for pointing that out!

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  16. Here's a book I'm starting to read (looks promising, and timely...and will probably freak me out): THE STORY OF STUFF, How Our Obsession With Stuff Is Trashing The Planet, Our Communities, And Our Health--And A Vision For Change, by Annie Leonard. The book cover starts out, "We have a problem with Stuff. With just 5 percent of the world's population, we're consuming 30 percent of the world's resources and creating 30 percent of the world's waste. If everyone consumed at U.S. rates, we would need three to five planets! ...(the author) tracks the life of the Stuff we uses every day - where our cotton T-shirts, laptops and aluminum cans come from, how they're produced, distributed, and consumed, and where they go when we throw them out." (And it reminds us of Rachel Carson's long-ago book of warning, SILENT SPRING, which I'd forgotten about.) I like this part, too: "...and all this Stuff isn't even making us happier! We work hard so we can buy Stuff that we quickly throw out, and then we want new Stuff so we work harder and have no time to enjoy all our Stuff..." In the author description, it says the author was one of TIME magazine's Heroes of the Environment in 2008. I think I really, really need to read this book!

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  17. Vicki, I saw the documentary. I have the book and I am afraid to read it ! LOL ! Once you know then you have some responsibility, I am afraid. And I love my stuff !

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    1. I love my stuff, too. I'm just trying to buy less of it. I'm thinking a lot about the shopping "fast" which more than one person here has referred to; wondering if I can really pull it off for one year. It would be a timesaver and also a moneysaver. Maybe it's like going to rehab for a year and getting clean! And you're right. Once you "know" - you can't go back. It's like, years and YEARS ago, in offices here in California, recycling became enforced at your desk, with separate bins for paper clips/staples vs. paper vs. plastic. Or at home over at least the past 20 years, with the separate trash-collection barrels supplied by the City. Once you get the hang of it, nothing will make your hand NOT put the right thing in the right barrel. We can learn quickly; again, MOST people want to do the right thing. I can remember when I was a kid on a family road trip...this would be 1960s...and people would just sling trash out of their cars while they were driving. Of course it eventually became a law that you can't do that without a big fine, but it's also the moral law of it being unthinkable to pollute the environment like that. It's like trashing your own backyard.

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