Today, in honor of World Water Day, we’re proud to announce an ambitious new goal to empower 2 million people to improve their access to drinking water and sanitation by 2023 in cotton growing and textile manufacturing communities in India, as part of the USAID Gap Inc. Women + Water Alliance, through collective action among our partners WaterAid, Water.org, CARE and Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC). Women are disproportionately affected by lack of access to water and sanitation—and through these efforts Gap Inc. will reach at least 1 million women. We estimate that we touch the lives of approximately two million women throughout our supply chain.
For some of us, water is something we rarely stop to think about—it’s readily available and safe for us to drink, wash our hands with, or swim in. Issues around water access have become especially salient during the global pandemic and in the recent winter storm disasters in Texas when water pumps and purification systems failed due to freezing temperatures—putting water challenges front and center for our employee and customer communities. In addition, many communities around the world experience limited access to clean water and lack the tools and education for sanitation and hygiene. Women are disproportionately affected by lack of access to water and sanitation—our new goal will empower at least 1 million women to improve their access to drinking water and sanitation.
We recognize that our company operates in an industry that relies heavily on water to do business and that the people who work in the factories and on the cotton farms we source from often live in places that are considered “highly water stressed.” Because of these dynamics, we are committed to being part of the solution. Our company has long stated our belief that water is a human right, and we are taking actions to have a positive water impact.
Some of the USAID Gap Inc. Women + Water Alliance activities to achieve our goal of reaching 2 million people include: partnering with WaterAid to help villages and local governments develop and implement water action plans; working with Water.org to provide microloans for items like water hand pumps and water filters; helping women, particularly from underserved socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, to build skills on water sanitation and hygiene practices through the Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. program with our partner CARE; and training cotton farmers to implement water stewardship best practices to improve water quality and availability with our partner, Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC).
This goal is part of our new Gap Inc. water stewardship strategy that aims to achieve Water for All. To achieve this ambition, we will engage customers & product, build community resilience, and catalyze innovation.
Our Progress to Date
Last year, Gap Inc. achieved our goal of conserving 10 billion liters of water through our manufacturing partners. Arvind and Gap Inc. have also invested in a new water treatment facility utilizing circular design that is now up and running and has saved nearly 223 million gallons of water to date by eliminating the use of fresh water at Arvind’s denim mill in Ahmedabad, India. The partnership also aims to catalyze open-source innovation in water stewardship through Water Innovation Center for Apparel.
As part of our commitment to the United Nations CEO Water Mandate Water Resilience Coalition, we have committed that by 2050 we will have a net positive water impact in water-stressed basins where we operate, ensure our value chain is water resilient; and raise the ambition of water resilience through global leadership. Today, Mark Breitbard, President and CEO of Gap Brand, spoke at the United Nations Global Compact CEO Water Mandate World Water Day event about the value of water to Gap, alongside today’s launch of Generation Good.
“We believe water is a human right and we want to ensure future generations have access to clean water for their health, work, and play. That is why it’s time to take bold action on water now,” said Breitbard.
Our Purpose-Led Brands
Achieving these goals will make a meaningful impact on the lives of many and would not be possible without the power of our purpose-led brands and their dedication to creating a healthier planet for all of us.
- Old Navy is committed to saving water in the production of denim. This season, 87% of Old Navy denim styles are made with water-saving techniques that use at least 20% less water compared to conventional methods. This season, Old Navy has launched new styles that utilize mineral dye techniques which use 59% less water compared to conventional techniques.
- Banana Republic continues to explore innovative dyeing techniques and wash methods to save water and ensure cleaner waterways through innovations such as bio-softeners, foam dye, Washwell and the usage of recycled and organic cotton.
- In 2016, Gap pioneered Washwell™, a program of better wash techniques that uses at least 20% less water compared to conventional methods. 91% of eligible Gap denim is part of the Washwell™ program and so far, Gap has saved more than 402 million liters of water. Today, Gap continues that work with its new Generation Good collection—made of organic and recycled fabrications for all generations. It’s their commitment to the people who make clothes, the people who wear them, and the planet. Designed with next-level sustainability, this capsule collection of jeans and tees meets every commitment on their Good List: Less Waste, Less Water, Lower Emissions, Better Materials, and Support for Workers.
- As a certified B Corp, Athleta is committed to using business as a force for good and putting people and planet above profit. This means that they consistently look towards solutions that reduce our impact on the planet and strive to empower all women, across all generations.
In addition to the brand efforts, our employees are finding their own ways to make a difference. At press time, over 4,800 Gap Inc. employees have taken part in our annual Walk for Water! Employees walk or move to represent the average 1.2 miles that women around the world need to walk each day to access water for themselves and their families.
Gap Foundation Donation to WaterAid
Gap Foundation will donate $12,000 to WaterAid. The contribution will support women with improved access to drinking water, so that they can spend less time walking for water and more time learning, or spending time with their families.