Back to Stories

Taking on Water: Improving water treatment to protect local communities

In the Indian region of Gujarat, where one of our mills is located, the heat can become oppressive and water is crucial. Nearby lakes sometimes dry up during the summer season, making it all the more important to preserve the local fresh water sources, especially the Narmada river.

The Narmada River is one of the seven holy rivers of India, and spans the country. I’m told some believe it was created from Lord Shiva’s perspiration, or from Lord Brahma’s tears. It is certainly sacred—a vital source of nourishment for the soul, but also for the body, community, and environment.

People across the entire country rely on this river in their daily lives, for drinking, washing, and agriculture. Entire cities and industries are built on its banks and in its valleys. The strain of supporting so many people, so many needs, has taken its toll on this precious natural resource. Recent studies have shown rising levels of pollution in the water, and the flow of the river itself has dwindled in these past years.

In some towns, rivers have become so polluted by chemicals and dyes, especially from nearby textile factories, that their pumps spout discolored water, reeking of toxins. Despite the stench and the stain in the water, many people have little choice but to drink it anyway if they don’t have access to another water source, even though they risk illness. Others walk an hour further to bring back just one jug.

Clean water is essential to our communities, in India and all over the world. Industrial growth—including the textile industry—has played a large part in the problem of water pollution, and we recognize that. In an effort to minimize the effect of their operations on both the environment and the communities that surround them, our manufacturing partners have introduced a number of sustainability initiatives across locations to minimize this impact.

Since water is both an important part of daily life and crucial for textile operations, this is no small feat. Through a commitment to practices like recycling, rainwater harvesting, and water management across their operations though, I’m proud to share how they are making a conscious change. Not only have they begun to track their water usage, but also designed and implemented ways to use less, benefiting customers, local communities, and the environment.

To reduce the consumption of fresh water at their local unit, the facility set up a sewage treatment plant and an effluent treatment plant. The sewage treatment system can handle 30 million liters per day, allowing the mill to use about 85% of the water they recover. By recycling and processing wastewater from the nearby areas, the facility reduces their dependence on water from rivers and other freshwater sources like the Narmada, leaving more available for the surrounding communities. Thanks to this system, we’re seeing a reduction in local water pollution and the health risks that come with it.

As important as water treatment is, this isn’t their only focus. The mill is also more safely and responsibly processing its waste and reducing its dependency on plastic by raising awareness about usage and its effects. I found this particularly resonant as well, since we ourselves are trying to limit the amount of plastic packaging used for Threaded products in favor of reusable and recycled materials.

Cleaning up the water systems in the communities surrounding these industrial areas up and down the Narmada River—and throughout India—won’t happen overnight. This kind of industry-wide change takes time, but by partnering with people who care about their workers, communities, and planet, I think we’re taking the right initiatives and moving in the right direction. At Threaded, we believe our world should be a sanctuary for all of us, and it’s up to us to take care of it and each other.