Our water stewardship strategy is built on our belief that access to clean, safe water is both a fundamental human right and an environmental responsibility.
Water is vital to the health and well-being of the people who make our products – the majority of whom are women – and the communities and natural resources we rely on. We have a responsibility and an opportunity to address water issues as a critical natural resource for our business—used to cultivate raw materials like cotton, consumed in the mills and laundries that manufacture our products, and used by consumers when they wash their clothes.
Our Water Stewardship work aims to reduce our water footprint within sourcing and manufacturing, as well as to strengthen community water resilience outside our immediate supply chain in collaboration with other stakeholders that rely on the shared water resources.
Empower 2 million people—including 1 million women—with improved access to water and sanitation through the USAID Gap Inc. Women + Water Alliance
1.5 million people reached
Water-resilient value chain by 2050
Net-positive water impact in water-stressed regions by 2050
2021 CDP Water Score: A-
After exceeding our ambitious goal to conserve 10 billion liters of water by 2020 from a 2014 baseline, we set new goals to create a water-resilient value chain and net positive water impact.
Our programs and collaborations are designed to tackle different water challenges holistically, mobilize broader business action and raise awareness of these critical issues. For our Water Stewardship strategy, we focus on three interconnected areas:
Since water issues vary dramatically based on local context, we have mapped all preferred wet-processing facilities—representing 65 percent of our business—against the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Water Risk Filter and World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas. This helps us increase transparency, prioritize focus areas, set more ambitious targets and improve water impacts across our supply chain. We are working with WWF to set context-based water targets for 30 strategic wet-processing facilities as a stepping stone towards a science-based target for water.
We work with mills and laundries to improve practices to reduce water and harmful chemicals use, often leveraging industry partnerships, such as the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii), to pilot programs and further our impact. For more information on our water savings to date, please see our latest report.
To activate our resource efficiency and manufacturing work, we have two Gap Inc.-led programs:
The Water Quality Program and the Mill Sustainability Program address water impacts in manufacturing through:
One of the ways we’re reducing our water footprint is through an innovative partnership with Arvind Limited, a leading textile manufacturer based in India.
Through this collaboration, Arvind’s denim manufacturing facility Ahmedabad operates entirely with reclaimed water using a membrane bio reactor water treatment technology to clean reclaimed wastewater from the surrounding community. This saves 2 billion liters of freshwater annually, which helps preserve the community’s vital resource. This process also supports sustainability by using a chemical-free treatment method to clean the wastewater.
Our brands are reducing water impacts through the expansion of Washwell™, which reduces the water used in garment dyeing and finishing by at least 20 percent compared to conventional methods. Laundries involved in production of Washwell™ styles are also required to participate in our Water Quality Program. Since its 2016 launch by Gap brand, Washwell™ has been adopted by Athleta, Old Navy and Banana Republic. We also have resources like our Preferred Fibers Toolkit to help employees expand the use of sustainable raw materials with a positive water impact, and we connect our design decisions with manufacturing improvements and innovative dye techniques, enabling us to save water in our supply chain while educating our consumers.
We collaborate in several initiatives to address water scarcity and improve access to water and sanitation: