I never had many and for the moment I have none in my wardrobe : a pair of jeans. I really don’t know why that is. Maybe because I don’t like my bum in it? And for a fact, I admit guilt for never having considered how eco-unfriendly the production of each individual pair of jeans is… or can be.
In 2018 they estimated that about 6 billion pairs of jeans were made that year ! 6 BILLION ! That is almost as many people living on the planet. That same year 35 percent ( up from 16% three years earlier ) of the jeans were expected to be made more sustainably. Which still leaves 4 billion pairs manufactured unsustainably.
become more concerned with how the products they buy affect the environment, brands are continually finding new ways to make jeans more sustainably. It may also be a good thing that the economic recession following the corona-crisis will lead to less consumption. I know this is a tricky thing to say, but think about the environment.
What Makes Jeans So Popular?
One of the reasons why denim is popular all over the world transcending cultural boundaries is the legendary longevity of denim as a fabric. Developed as a rough clothing to be worn by working men during the early 1600s, denim is today an on-the-go fashion popularized by Levi Strauss & Co in the 18th century. Jeans has a unique style and appearance unparalleled and unmatched by any other type of apparel.
Affordable prices, comfort, fabric that becomes softer as it ages; robust stitch patterns and use of rivets on rear pockets and near the zipper for greater garment durability, are all factors which have popularized denim jeans.
The Downside of Its Popularity
From the pesticides and insecticides used to grow cotton to the massive amounts of water, energy, and chemicals used to process the materials and turn them into denim, jeans rank as one of the least eco-friendly clothing items to make.
On average, it takes 1,500 liters (about 396 gallons) of water to produce a single pair of jeans.
With 14.20% market share, Bangladesh is the 3rd largest exporter of denim products in the US after Mexico and China. In Europe Bangladesh has a 27% market share. Pakistan, Turkey and Vietnam are the three closest competitors of Bangladesh. None of these countries score well when it comes to labor conditions:
Child labor, low salaries, poor working conditions, short life expectancy are the most common factors. This however is very unlikely going to stop us from buying jeans.
Can I still wear my Jeans?
Yes, you can ! In today’s world we have choices. These choices are not just some random commodity. These are choices we ought to make ! You can choose to buy a sustainable denim jeans, or you cannot.
Let’s for once start with the Winner
I expected to find a SUSTAINABILITY section on their website. You’ll have to click on their ABOUT button to find out what their RADICAL TRANSPARENCY is all about.
Everlane partners with the best, ethical factories around the world. They visit them often and build strong personal relationships with the owners. Each factory is given a compliance audit to evaluate factors like fair wages, reasonable hours, and environment. Their goal? A score of 90 or above for every factory.
Saitex International in southern Vietnam is Everlane’s denim supplier. Unlike typical manufacturers, Saitex’ LEED-certified facility recycles 98% of its water, relies on alternative energy sources, and repurposes byproducts to create premium jeans—minus the waste.
Saitex’s unique closed system recycles 98% of all water used—and when it comes out the other side, it’s so clean you can drink it. How? They reduce, reuse, and recycle. Standard denim manufacturers use “belly” washing machines, which waste as much as 1,500 liters of water per pair of jeans. Thanks to Saitex’s closed water system and super-efficient jet washing machines, only .4 liters of water are lost, due only to evaporation. On-site rainwater collection pools allow them to minimize the impact of what consumption they do have, and their sophisticated five-step filtration process separates water from toxic contaminants, then sends clean water back into the system.
Through its commitment to renewable energy resources like solar power, Saitex has reduced its energy usage by 5.3 million kilowatt-hours of power per year—and reduced CO2 emissions by nearly 80%. They also plant trees to offset their emissions.
Unlike traditional driers—which guzzle electricity—Saitex air dries their jeans (yes, like your grandmother used to), using air recycled from hot factory machinery. After mostly drying on the conveyor, each pair is briefly finished in a commercial machine.
All denim creates a toxic byproduct called sludge, but at Saitex, the sludge is extracted and shipped to a nearby brick factory. Mixed with concrete, the toxic material can no longer leech into the environment. The resulting bricks are used to build affordable homes.
Enjoy free U.S. shipping and returns on your first order.
If you couldn’t find what you were looking for, I have more for you in petto.
WARP + WEFT
Founded by Sarah Ahmed, Warp + Weft is touted as the world’s cleanest vertically integrated denim company, meaning it owns its own factory. The name is appropriately chosen as Warp and weft are the two basic components used in weaving to turn thread or yarn into fabric.
Since the brand’s launch in 2017, they’ve sold more than 477,000 pairs of jeans and saved more than 572.4 million gallons of water.
To be completely transparent about its manufacturing process, Warp + Weft gives a look inside its factory, highlighting elements like responsibly sourced cotton, eco-friendly dye, water-saving techniques, and solar power.
business for three decades. Their eco-friendly mill is one of
the world’s largest textile manufacturers, which means they
can create high quality denim that’s good for you, the
planet, and your wallet.
A pair of Warps requires less than 10 liters of water. Beyond that, they treat
and recycle 98% of the water we do use. They also skip the environmentally-harmful bleaching process by opting for cutting-edge Dry Ozone technology, making Warp + Weft fully compliant with International Social and Environmental & Quality Standards.
On top of that they are fully committed to ethical practices, fair wages, reasonable hours, and positive working conditions for all their people.
Yes I am Jeans
Yes, this is the name of a denim brand 100% Made in Brazil. Manufacture takes place in Sao Paolo and Minus Gerais with a minimum of chemical products. It’s neutral color palette makes use of laundries that do no harm to the environment.
All jeans go through an industrial laundry before they reach you. At ‘Yes I am Jeans’ most of the products undergo only the softening process, reducing the use of chemicals that would otherwise harm workers and the environment. Like clothing, laundries in Brazil need to follow environmental standards such as disposing of its own water treatment system.
Brazil is the 4th largest denim producer in the world. This is why being concerned about the environment is so important.
So then, Is LEVI’s a Sustainable Brand?
It surprisingly is.
THINKING FULL-CIRCLE WITH LEVI’S® WELLTHREAD™
Designed and modeled on four guiding principles: Materials, People, Environment and Process, Levi’s® WellThread™ is their most sustainable collection.
It’s in Worker Well-Being facilities with rain-fed Cottoned Hemp, Water<Less™ technologies and as many recycled materials as we can. And every thread is designed to be recycled.
Jeans Designed to Recycle
Denim is a strong, sturdy fabric that’s built to stand the test of wear and tear. Its long lifecycle is one of its most appealing eco-characteristics. It also provides a major benefit that can help close the fashion loop: it’s recyclable. To help keep clothing in our daily use and out of landfills, Levi’s is partnering with Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ program, an initiative focused on recycling denim.
Starting now, Levi’s® stores (and Outlets) will have a recycling box where you can drop off any denim from any brand and give your jeans a new life. Recycled jeans can take on many new functions, but your denim will be used specifically as materials for building insulation, a portion of which will go towards community-oriented projects, such as libraries, hospitals and schools.
On November 14, 2017 Levi’s® launched its Authorized Vintage collection in conjunction with the new Levi’s® flagship and tailor shop in New York City’s Soho neighborhood . It marked the first time in the company’s history to launch a sustainable, scalable vintage business.
When Levi’s was approached by a collector who had nearly 65,000 pieces of authentic, made in the U.S.A. Levi’s® denim, they acquired the entire stock. It included thousands of classic jeans and Trucker Jackets, along with hundreds of artfully personalized keepsakes, and rare exclusives from Levi’s® most collectible collaborations. Up-cycling became their mission. Levi’s takes pride to work with the best tailors on the planet to properly alter these incredible pairs of vintage.
Or buy your next pair of Levi’s denim here.
What can you do to reduce your denim impact?
Too Short, too long, too small or too big, give away or recycle
Up-cycle, turn your jeans into a handy shopping bag, a cushion for your couch or a toy for your pets
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