Initially seen on Cowboys and Bikers, denim was used to make durable, stiff trousers that could stand up to anything. As they became popular, consumers wanted that comfortable, worn-in look and feel from the start, without the effort.
But achieving this look came with the price of a whole lot of manufacturing processes that are damaging the environment. Aside from the chemicals that are heavy pollutants, denim is primarily made from cotton, a crop that needs a lot of water.
Say, 1800 gallons for a single pair of jeans.*
Not the most sustainable choice.
So what are the solutions?
Get your denim second-hand.
Often, buying second-hand will not only be cheaper, but it’s better for the environment as you are saving a pair from landfill. Depop, charity shops and Bandi are all great places to find some, to name a few!
Wash your jeans less often.
Unless you spilt an entire meal over them, you could get away with washing your jeans about once a month. Yes, you read that right! According to the Clothes Doctor** and the CEO of Levi’s***, many fabrics actually benefit from being washed less. Denim is one of them.
Frequent washing not only wears the material down and fades the colour, but also releases microfibres and chemicals into the environment. So, spot clean them when needed in-between washes to minimise this!
Repair, Rework or Recycle.
Please don’t throw your jeans away as soon as they get a hole!
You can patch them up or rework them into something entirely different. Turning jeans into shorts is a super straightforward example of how you can do this.
If there really is no saving them, pop them into textile recycling to be repurposed, avoiding landfill.
Buy sustainably produced denim.
If you are going to buy new, then check out the manufacturing processes of the company. Levi’s, for example, offers denim made of Hemp (which is a sustainable material), and they have their own tailor and repair shop for your jeans.