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.
As part of our commitment to enriching communities, our Water Stewardship work aims to support water resilience in regions touched by our value chain by improving access to clean water and sanitation, reducing water use in manufacturing and company operations, and supporting watershed health to create a positive impact in nature and communities.
Empower 5 million people touched by the apparel industry to improve and sustain their access to clean water and sanitation
Reduce water use and replenish water to nature, equivalent to the water used in manufacturing Gap Inc. apparel and in our owned and operated facilities
2.4 million people reached
Establishing baselines and conducting situation analysis
Water-resilient value chain by 2050
Net-positive water impact in water-stressed regions by 2050
2022 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 2030 goals as key milestones on the path to achieve a net positive impact in water-stressed basins and to create a water-resilient value chain by 2050.
Our programs and collaborations tackle water challenges holistically, mobilize business action and raise awareness of critical water issues. Our Water Stewardship strategy focuses on three interconnected areas
Gap Inc. aims to improve long-term, sustained access to clean drinking water and sanitation in communities touched by the apparel industry. We recognize that water resiliency and women’s empowerment are inextricably linked, as women in many of our sourcing countries face a disproportionate burden of managing household water needs and often need to walk miles to collect water every day. Our Water Access initiatives catalyze women as active participants and leaders in advancing locally driven improvements to water access, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in their communities.
This journey for Gap Inc. began with a pioneering global development partnership, the USAID Gap Inc. Women + Water Alliance. Between 2017-2023, the Women + Water Alliance empowered more than 2.4 million people in India to improve their access to clean water and sanitation. Looking forward, the learnings from the Alliance will inform a new collective action initiative supported by the Water Resilience Coalition: the Women + Water Collaborative. We will also leverage innovative financing by investing in WaterEquity’s Global Access Fund IV, which will support financial institutions and enterprises in emerging markets to scale their water and sanitation lending activities, such as loans that enable low-income and marginalized customers to install household water and sanitation solutions.
It is through collective action partnerships such as these—with leading nonprofits, institutions at the global, national, and local levels, private sector companies, and community stakeholders—that we aim to empower 5 million people with sustained and equitable access to climate-resilient WASH services by 2030.
Gap Inc. will strive to lessen our water footprint by partnering with suppliers to reduce freshwater1 use in apparel manufacturing processes and by prioritizing efficiency in Gap Inc.’s owned and operated facilities.
Water stress is a highly localized issue, so Gap Inc. is working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to identify where to prioritize action, using tools like the WWF’s Water Risk Filter, and developing guidance to aid suppliers in high water-stressed regions in setting context-based water targets.
To progress towards those water reduction targets, Gap Inc. will continue to work with suppliers and partners to implement water efficiency improvements through our work with the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii); reduce harmful chemicals and manage wastewater responsibly; expand the use of programs like Washwell that reduce water use in garment finishing by at least 20% compared to conventional wash methods; and help reduce dependency on freshwater by supporting adoption of innovative water treatment and recycled water solutions. Going further, Gap Inc. will help elevate water management across the apparel industry through a new water innovation center, which will launch in 2023 in partnership with India-based supplier Arvind Limited to showcase water reduction best practices and develop open source new technologies and solutions.
Our resource efficiency and manufacturing work is driven by two Gap Inc.-led programs:
The Water Quality Program and the Mill Sustainability Program address water impacts in manufacturing through:
Our brands are reducing water impacts at the product level through:
(1) Freshwater includes ground, surface, municipal and rainwater used in Gap Inc. manufacturing processes
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.
To tackle our freshwater consumption, we must look beyond water reductions. For the remaining water that does get consumed in manufacturing and Gap Inc.’s company facilities, we will replenish the equivalent amount in high water-stressed regions touched by our business. We will work to strengthen priority watersheds in our value chain to reduce business risk from climate change through collective action initiatives such as projects that address watershed regeneration and conservation of nature, as well as farmer trainings that encourage regenerative principles and other good water management practices in their cotton fields. We will invest in projects that support water availability and quality—with additional benefits for ecosystem restoration, biodiversity, and community water access with an emphasis on inclusion and gender equity—to strengthen water and climate resilience. We will use the World Resource Institute’s Volumetric Water Based Accounting methodology and other best practice frameworks to measure our impact, and we will ground our initiatives in situational analyses and community-driven solutions.
We believe that collaboration will have a multiplier effect in addressing the water crisis, so we will continue to work closely with partners across sectors, nonprofits, vendors across the supply chain, and local community stakeholders. Through its partnerships and engagements in key initiatives, Gap Inc. is committed to continuous learning, adoption of best practices, and collective action to help achieve meaningful impact at scale.
We collaborate in several water related initiatives and forums: