Image: Gigie Cruz-Sy / Greenpeace.

Water is in the news. Kingston Bridge was closed due to flooding in the underpass after heavy rain. A burst pipe caused loss of mains supply for large parts of South West London for hours. And the risk of the Hogsmill suffering from sewage incidents seems all too high. The Environment Agency warned recently that England will not have enough water for our needs in 25 years time if we do not use it more efficiently. Read more about green infrastructure in Kingston.

It is easy to get disheartened, even cynical. I do a handwash instead of going to the laundrette and turn off the tap when brushing my teeth. But when hundreds of thousands of gallons are leaking out of a struggling mains system, can I really make a difference?

Answer: alone I cannot; but collectively we can. Action is needed at all levels, from Government funding infrastructure improvements to the gardener fixing up an extra water butt.

 Water is everywhere in our lives. “UK Government Rejects Calls For Fast Fashion Retailers To Address Impact On The Environment” ran one headline this week, referring to a report of the Environmental Audit Committee. We are familiar with the pictures of landfill sites overflowing with discarded fast fashion. But the fashion industry is also a huge user and polluter of water.

‘Sustainable Wardrobes’ are about more than water. But water use is one thing to think about when we are shopping for clothes. Environment Trust is planning a ‘clothes swap event’ to raise awareness of all aspects of this issue. 

From the Environmental Audit Committee report:

Twenty per cent of industrial water pollution globally is attributable to the dyeing and treatment of textiles, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

One kilogram of cotton - equivalent to the weight of a shirt and pair of jeans - can take as much as 10,000–20,000 litres of water to produce.