Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Water Scarcity and Cotton

Levi Strauss fears that due to climate change in the near future cotton could become too expensive or scarce, which would jeopardize the company’s very existence. In an attempt to quell this fear the company has begun a nonprofit program to teach farmers in India, Pakistan, Brazil and West and Central Africa in the latest irrigation/rain-water capture techniques.

They have also introduced a new jean that is smoothed with rocks but no water, and are also sewing in tags urging consumers to wash less and use cold water.

In 2005 nongovernmental as well as cotton industry organizations, and some giant retailers including Ikea, Gap and Adidas founded the international nonprofit ‘Better Cotton Initiative’ in order to promote water conservation, reduce pesticides use as well as child labor in the cotton industry. In 2009 Levi Strauss joined the initiative and has since given a combined $600,000 towards the initiative.

A program known as the Carbon Disclosure Program (CDP) has also recently added water security to its priorities, as nearly 40 percent of businesses have already reported that water problems had detrimentally impacted their business. The CDP is working to catalyze a global movement towards sustainable corporate water stewardship to safeguard water resources and address the global water crisis; one of the most significant challenges facing our global economy today.

 Credit: Carbon Disclosure Program

Resources: The New York Times online Sruthi Gottipati contributed reporting from Shelu, India.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Calculating Water Footprints:

In an attempt to conserve water

See how a variety of common products stack up when it comes to water use.

You would be amazed at the amount of water needed to manufacture certain items. For example, it takes around 20 gallons of water to manufacture a pint of beer. 132 gallons for one 2 liter of soda, and 500 gallons to grow, dye and process a pair of Levi's stonewashed jeans!

Much of this water is replenished through natural cycles, though many companies are beginning to calculate not just their 'carbon footprint,' but also their water footprint. The motivation behind this is self interest as water shortages loom worse every year. The United Nation's has projected that by 2025 two-thirds of the planet's population will be facing water shortages. Water managers in from several different states anticipate the shortages to begin this year in 2013 according to a general accounting report.

Representatives from such companies as Nike Inc, PepsiCo, Levi Strauss & Co and Starbucks will meet on a summit to calculate the shrinking corporate water footprints. Scientists, Companies' and Development agencies Will launch the Water Footprint Network In December, which is an international non-profit that helps corporations and governments measure and manage their footprint.

The term 'water footprint' was coined by a man by the name of Arjen Hoekstra 11 years ago. Hoekstra is a professor of water management at University of Twente in the Netherlands. Using data provided by the U.N.'s Food and Agricultural organization, Mr Hoekstra and other researchers were able to gauge the amount of water used in making various products from start to finish. They then took this data and compared it to people's consumption patterns in order to get a rough water footprint for both individuals and the nation as a whole.

Zuma Press
Water shortages have plagued Georgia, including a 2007 drought that lowered the Lake Allatoona reservoir. The state tried unsuccessfully to move its border north to claim part of the Tennessee River.
Back in 2004 a Coca-Cola bottling plant was shuttered after residents reported that the company was depleting and polluting local water supplies. Now more and more companies are beginning to calculate their water footprints, and are developing new ways to diminish them.

By 2050 there will be a projected 3 billion more people on the planet, according to Stuart Orr the manager of Freshwater Footprint Project for the World Wildlife Fund; and somehow we're going to have to have enough water to sustain that many more people.

Source: By