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We Need a Circular Economy for Water

Updated: Feb 18

Published by GreenBiz. Written by Nick Jeffreis and Tansy Fall.

This article is published in co-operation with Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Water is a vital resource that has fueled human progress. It transports solids, dissolves minerals, chemicals and nutrients and stores thermal energy. This "carrier characteristic" allows for countless industrial, agricultural and transport processes that enable our society to thrive.


Image by Amritanshu Sikdar on Unsplash, GreenBiz


But water is also key to life. The water in our oceans is home to phytoplankton that produce 70 percent of the oxygen we breathe. The lakes and rivers, and the groundwater beneath our feet, are our sources of drinking water without which we would soon perish. The food we eat relies on fresh water to grow.

To make just one pair of jeans requires around 1,981 gallons of water and produces difficult-to-clean wastewater.

With the number of clothes produced annually doubling from 50 billion to 100 billion units in the last 15 years, industrial water use in the clothing industry alone also has increased dramatically. In addition to making the most of the water we use every day, changing the way products are designed and made has significant water conserving potential.


While treatment of wastewater always will be necessary, we can also can prevent a lot of water from becoming "waste" in the first place. Depending on the use, different water quality standards are acceptable.


Read the full article from GreenBiz.