Today, cotton is the most important natural fibre used in the textile industries worldwide, amounting to 40% of the textile production. The consumption of a cotton product is connected to a chain of impacts on the water resources in the countries where cotton is grown and processed –mainly dry regions. These impacts of cotton production on the environment are easily visible and have different faces. On the one hand there are the effects of water depletion. On the other, the effects on water quality.

Global consumption of cotton products requires 256 Gm3 of water per year, out of which about 42% is blue water, 39% green water and 19% dilution water. The impacts on water are typically cross-border. About 84% of the water footprint of cotton consumption in the EU25 region is located outside Europe, with major impacts particularly in India and Uzbekistan. Cotton consumers have little incentive to take responsibility for the impacts on remote water systems due to the general lack of proper water pricing mechanisms or other ways of transmitting production information.

The impact of consumption of cotton products in EU25 on the blue water resources.

Publications

2006
Chapagain, A.K., Hoekstra, A.Y., Savenije, H.H.G. and Gautam, R. (2006) The water footprint of cotton consumption: An assessment of the impact of worldwide consumption of cotton products on the water resources in the cotton producing countries, Ecological Economics. 60(1): 186-203.
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