Water Usage

Refections on the Ganges River, Varanasi India

Refections on the Ganges River, Varanasi India

In my previous blog post I mentioned that I’ve been making cyanotypes. While I enjoy the process and it’s unpredictable nature, the amount of water used during the washing phase troubles me. Researching the method, I discovered that some notable practitioners and educators advocate for washing in natural flowing water. The chemistry involved in cyanotypes is non-toxic so I’ve been experimenting with this technique. How wonderful it would be if my studio were beside a lake or flowing river, but sadly this isn’t the case. Instead I’ve been letting pieces soak in multiple baths rather that continually running water. This seems to work though I haven’t done a scientific comparison of water used.

And so, this started me down the path of thinking more about water and how various industries use this precious resource. Garment manufacturing is one of the heaviest polluting industries in the world. Many of the fashion industry’s negative environmental impacts spring from the production of materials used to create clothing. For those of you who know me well, you know I dislike shopping, especially for clothing. In turn I’ve been reading a lot about the “slow fashion” movement, mending, natural dyes and sustainability.

Over 700 gallons of water are needed to grown the cotton for a single t-shirt and a pair of jean can use up to 1,500 gallons of water. I urge you to consider how your own wardrobe impacts the environment and how you might be able to extend the life of your garments by repairing them or repurposing them with natural dyes. Learning to work with foraged natural materials and the meditative process of slow stitching to mend or repurpose an article of clothing is the perfect antidote to a hyper-paced digital world.

Pamela Viola