Denim is Dangerous… Here’s Why

January 14, 2019

I love jeans like most college girls love leggings. Nothing is easier for me than throwing on a pair and a t-shirt. I used to swear by Gap jeans because they were one of the few brands that fit me. And even with these “perfect” jeans, they were still too big around the waist and only lasted a few years before they stretched. Lately, I have been sick of half-assed denim.

Jeans are water guzzlers

If you haven’t already read my blog post about cotton, the material is tricky. While it is a natural fiber, if it isn’t organic, it is using a lot of harmful pesticides and regardless needs A LOT of water.

How many gallons of water do you think it takes to produce a pair of jeans from this cotton? We both know I am going to tell you but stop and think for a sec.

On average it is about eighteen hundred gallons of water. 1,800 is a lot of water simply to grow the cotton to make the jeans. This isn’t even taking into account how much water is needed in the factories to create the various “washes” of denim.

The issue is that while buying organic cotton is excellent, organic cotton still needs a lot of water, and there still isn’t a perfect solution for water conservation. 

On top of that let’s think about the indigo used to dye the cotton. I won’t go too in-depth about how harmful dyes are for the environment (I will save that for another article). But the indigo can often be detrimental to the environment and the workers if not used and disposed of properly. There are rivers in China that will literally turn blue due to the gallons of indigo dye dumped into waterways. 

Jeans are so much worse for the earth than I had ever considered. While we aren’t going through jeans as fast as a cotton t-shirt, jeans are becoming far too big of a burden on our planet. Like I always say, do your part to change your buying habits, but more importantly, we must be activists and say no to fast fashion brands that sell denim that is harming the planet. We must join forces always send emails questioning denim companies about the environmental implications their jeans are contributing. And think twice before you buy your tenth pair of jeans. 

If you want to buy a new pair of jeans

  • Buy jeans that have some type of closed-loop system. From reusing the water in factories, using recycled materials, to programs that offer free repairs for your jeans are all great ways to make sure your jeans can last a lifetime.
    • Everlane recycles its water in the factories. And Reformation uses deadstock denim and other fibers that don’t require as much water
    • Nudie jeans offer free repairs for life and use non-toxic dye

If you need a new pair but don’t want to buy new

  • My most prized second-hand piece is my vintage Levi’s. I wear them with everything, and it is shocking how much nicer the material is compared to newer jeans. The best part is my go-to pair of pants only cost $18. (Thanks a million, L Train Vintage) 
  • If you are feed up with secondhand stores not being size inclusive. I hear you. Other options are always secondhand sites such as ThredUp, Poshmark, etc. a lot more size options, still just as sustainable buying secondhand, and another super affordable option 

If you want your jeans to last you for YEARS

  • In case you are unaware you do not need to wash all of your clothes every time you wear them, especially regarding denim. You should at least get ten wears out of your jeans before you wash them.
    • Another option that I just recently read about is that you can put your jeans in the freezer. Apparently its cold enough to freeze away odor bacteria and doesn’t require any washing or drying. I will be trying and will report back with my thoughts…

The point is… 

Jeans are another staple in our wardrobe that is harmful to the planet. So stop buying them so much. And when you finally need that new pair, buy them from a sustainable brand or buy them secondhand. And when you own those bad boys stop washing your jeans so much. They have sucked up enough water before you even put them on. 

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