We live on a wet planet, and without that water we would not be able to survive. But in places like China where I live, industries such as textile facilities are pumping a nasty cocktail of toxic chemicals into our water – you only need to see the photos below to get an idea of just how critical the situation is.
At Greenpeace, we’re campaigning to Detox our water: exposing brands that are sourcing from polluting facilities and highlighting the disastrous effects of hazardous chemicals in our waterways. So for this World Water Day we thought we would share with you ten facts about water that you probably didn’t know… but really should.
Dye Factory in Shaoxing © Lu Guang / Greenpeace
10 devastating facts about water pollution you ought to know
- The vast majority of our water is in our oceans, with just 2.5% of the planet’s total supply being fresh water.
- In China alone, 320 million people are without access to clean drinking water.
- 40% of China’s surface water is considered polluted.
- A staggering 20% of the groundwater used as drinking water in China’s urban areas is contaminated, sometimes with carcinogenic hazardous chemicals.
- Comprehensive Greenpeace investigations revealed that the majority of clothing items from big fashion brands like GAP, Vero Moda and Calvin Klein that we tested contained hazardous chemicals.
- Some of these chemicals break down to form hormone-disrupting and even cancer-causing chemicals when released into waterways around the world.
- It is reported that, every year, around 80 billion garments are produced worldwide – the equivalent of just over 11 garments a year for every person on the planet.
- It is estimated that each individual – man, woman and even the unborn child – carries hundreds of man-made chemicals in their bodies, including some that could be linked to the textile industry.
- Greenpeace is demanding fashion brands Detox their products and supply chains. How? By transparently eliminating all hazardous chemicals from their manufacturing processes by 2020.
- Big brands do listen. Brands like Zara, Victoria’s Secret, Benetton and Valentino, have agreed to Detox their products and production processes by 2020.
Sadly, other brands linked to toxic water pollution still need to up their game and take responsibility for their mess.
Black Swirl in Linjiang Industrial Zone © Greenpeace / Lu Guang
That’s why we need your voice right now to help us persuade other big brands like Tommy Hilfiger, GAP, Armani and Metersbonwe to get these toxic chemicals out of our water.
Join us in calling on the fashion industry to #Detox our #Fashion and help us protect our water, our bodies, our children, our communities and ultimately, our future.
Tianjie Ma lives in Beijing and is Head of the Toxic Campaign at Greenpeace East Asia
P.S. Toxic water pollution is a daily reality for many people living in China and elsewhere in the Global South. This World Water Day, please join me in celebrating those people fighting against this human and environmental injustice by watching and sharing this powerful documentary.
Together we can amplify their voices.
Video: Textile Towns in the Shadows of Pollution