Producing one t-shirt requires 1,400 litres of water

25.11.14 | News
Karin Beate Nøsterud/
Textile production requires enormous quantities of water. 1,400 litres are needed to produce just one t-shirt, which equals more than 10 bathtubs. The Nordic Council of Ministers focuses on ways in which Nordic consumers can minimize the negative environmental impact of textile production in a new consumer guide and video.

Consumers can make a big difference

The ‘Use your clothes – Use your head – Spare the environment’ guide lists a range of things consumers can do to reduce textile waste by changing their clothing consumption. It points to the fact that increased reuse and recycling of clothing and textiles reduces the need for environmentally harmful production.

The guide affirms that consumers can easily make a difference, i.e. by purchasing clothes of better quality, buying and selling second-hand, swapping or borrowing clothes through clothing exchange markets and clothing libraries, and by donating used clothes to charity organizations. Moreover, consumers are encouraged to buy eco-labelled clothing, e.g. labelled with the Nordic Ecolabel or the EU Flower Label.

The recommendations are based on a background report on reuse and recycling of textiles that was published by the Nordic Council of Ministers in November 2014.

Apart from the enormous water consumption, a large number of chemicals are used to process textiles. A Swedish study recently identified 165 hazardous substances that are used in textile production. At the same time, the CO2 emissions from the production of the average Nordic consumer’s yearly textile purchase equals driving 2,000 kilometres in the family car.

“The environmental footprint of our clothing is in fact larger than the footprint of the electricity used for all our household appliances combined. We can make a big difference by changing our clothing consumption,” says Lone Lykke Nielsen, biologist at the Danish Environmental Protection Agency and member of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ working group for Waste Prevention.

More information

‘Changing consumer behaviour towards increased prevention of textile waste’ was produced by Rostra Kommunikation for the Nordic Council of Ministers’ working groups for waste prevention; the Nordic Waste Group (NWG) and the Working Group for Sustainable Consumption and Production (HKP). It was produced in collaboration with the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, the Norwegian Environment Agency, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Finnish Environment Institute.

The consumer guide, video and background report are available for free download here.

Film – links to Nordic language versions on the Nordic YouTube channel:

• Danish • Norwegian • Swedish • Finnish