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Safeguarding and Preserving Water at Ralph Lauren

  • Date: 24 March 2021
  • Author: Devon Leahy, VP of Sustainability, Ralph Lauren

From growing cotton for our products to dyeing and washing fabric, water is a resource the apparel and textile industry is highly reliant on. That is why, at Ralph Lauren, water stewardship is an integral part of our citizenship and sustainability strategy, Design the Change. We are in the process of transforming the way water is used in our supply chain, introducing new technologies that minimize consumption, waste and pollution, and helping to protect the water resources we all use in our daily routines.

A key part of our water stewardship journey has been our partnership with WWF. Over the past year, Ralph Lauren worked with WWF to develop action plans that support our commitment to safeguard and preserve water resources in the communities where we source and manufacture. We are also progressing on our goal of reducing water consumption across our value chain. With WWF, we are evaluating our total water footprint to better understand our water risk and the areas of greatest impact within our value chain. This understanding is beneficial in our work to protect watersheds in key geographies, and is informing where and how we accelerate the changes needed to address water use and pollution in apparel production.

This World Water Day, we took another significant step in our journey to Design the Change and introduced Color on Demand, a revolutionary cotton dyeing platform that will take our work further and help reduce water use and pollution caused by cotton dyeing.

Every year, trillions of liters of water are used for fabric dyeing alone, generating around 20% of the world’s wastewater.1 Color on Demand, in its current operating phase, has significant water savings and dramatically reduces the amount of chemicals, dye, time and energy used in the cotton dyeing process. We believe it will help transform how the fashion industry colors cotton –more sustainably, more effectively and faster than ever before. Our goal is to use the Color on Demand platform in more than 80% of our solid cotton products by 2025.

In addition to this groundbreaking innovation, we already have several water stewardship initiatives in place. Some of these initiatives include: manufacturing all Earth Polos with a waterless dyeing application; reducing the use of water-intensive chemicals in the production of core denim products; and working with several of our knit and woven manufacturers to minimize water use and improve effluent treatment by upgrading factory equipment – which helped our suppliers avoid 168,000 cubic meters of water use in FY20.

While we are proud to make progress along our journey, there is more work ahead. We believe we will continue to make a meaningful impact when we partner with peers on collective actions and invest in scalable innovations.

This World Water Day, we affirm our commitment to protecting and preserving water resources, and look forward to continued partnership with WWF and our peers to create a more equitable and sustainable future for us all.

To learn more about our continued work with WWF and our water stewardship strategy, visit:

1. World Resources Institute and UNEP & Ellen MacArthur.

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of WWF.