– Makes you feel bad? No need. Next time, just buy hemp textile products instead of cotton. And yes, also instead of organic cotton. Or buy hemp/organic cotton blends. – At least that will take us some of the way towards sustainability...
..That would be in this world. If manufacturers were charged the same price for water as the rest of us. In Denmark water costs about 10$ per 1000L. Cotton (and organic cotton) needs about 5000 liter irrigated water pr. kg fiber. A pair of jeans weigh arund 500 g. That amounts to a cost price of 25 USD for water alone! When you factor in the margins of the manufacturer, the wholesaler and the retailer this would translate to a retail price of 25$x4 = 100$. For the water cost alone! Add the original 40$ retail price and you get a 140$ corrected retail price...
– Of course, if the water is free or very cheap, there is no need to worry. But is water free, even if producers do not pay for it?
No, water is a scarce resource in most places, (except in river deltas like Giza in Egypt). So, water is not free. At least not to society. Not to your children. The cost lies in the drying out of lakes and wells, eventually leaving no water for any use at all. Not sustainable at all, to say the least.
The most illustrative example is Lake Aral. Over just a span of 60 years irrigation to support cotton farming has reduced what was once the world’s 4-largest lake to near nothing.
The Aral Sea, The image left shows the sea in 1989, right in 2014. Source: earthsky.org
A video documentary from BBC touches on the real cost of the lake’s shrinkage to local society. That is fishermen and farmers among others…
Video, BBC: How Soviet pollution destroyed the Aral Sea... In October 1990 Western scientists confirmed the virtual disappearance of the Aral Sea in Soviet Central Asia, formerly the fourth largest inland sea in the world.
You do not have the same problem with jeans - or any other textile product - made of hemp. (Fact: The original Levi´s jeans, famed for their durability were made of hemp). Hemp requires ZERO irrigation under normal circumstances. Hemp actually only needs 2000 L/per kg fiber. N atural average rainfall is 5000 L per m2 (1 m2 is enough to grow 1 kg hemp fiber). In fact, Hemp doesn´t really need any additives (fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides) to be turned into super-durable and super-cool jeans and many other luxurious textile products.
So, taking into account all the real costs of resources, the retail price of a pair of hemp-jeans can be far closer to 40$ than 140$ ! And hemp jeans last at least 3 times longer than cotton jeans.