Is Denim an Eco-friendly Product?

Denim is one of the most favorite clothing all around the world, especially among the youths. A range of denim products like jeans, jackets, shirts, skirts are available in the market.

The denim fabric has been widely used since the 1950s. The word “denim” comes from the French serge de Nimes , which refers to a particular type of fabric that was produced in Nimes, a town in France. During the American Gold Rush, it gained popularity in American West, as manufacturers like Levis Strauss loved the durability and repairability of the denim fabric and started the production of the signature indigo blue colored jeans which can be seen as a part of every individual’s closet till today.

Looking at the magnitude of the production and demand of the denim fabric, the question of how friendly it is to the environment arises.

Is Denim bad for the environment?

The answer to this question is YES. Denim production is bad for the environment. Let’s look at the different impacts that denim has on the environment.

One of the major environmental issues with the production of the denim is the dye that is used in the process of making it. The wastewater containing the dyes from the industries is discharged into the waterways and causes water pollution. This is not only dangerous to the aquatic organisms but also to the humans. The dyes are very complex compounds and cannot be removed from the water through simple water treatment techniques. It requires advanced techniques to treat such water which are quite expensive.

Another environmental issue is the cultivation of cotton which is the raw material for the denim. The cotton crop requires gallons of water which is much higher than any other crop. On average, it takes 1,500 liters (about 396 gallons) of water to produce a single pair of jeans. Also to protect the crop, a lot of chemical pesticides are used which impacts the soil quality of the land. These pesticides are also harmful to human health and a high risk to the environment.

Can denim be Eco-friendly?

The answer to this question is also a YES. Though the production process of denim is not environmentally friendly, the usage of denim can be Eco-friendly. Let us look at why denim is said to be Eco-friendly.

The most important quality of denim is the durability of the fabric. All those having denim jeans or jacket in their closet must have experienced that the denim products lasts for ages. Till the time it fits you well, you will never find a need to replace it. As per the latest fashion trend, the older and torn the jeans the more trendy it looks. This leads to a more sustainable Eco-friendly way of shopping, as the less you replace your clothes, the less you generate waste and fabric remains in the circular economy loop for a longer time.

This shows that the usage of denim is Eco-friendly, but the process of manufacturing it is not. Hence the manufacturers need to look out for some advanced technologies of production which are able to produce the same quality of fabric but not at the stake of the environment. There are few brands that have opted for the Eco-friendly ways of manufacturing denim fabric. But it is a need of the hour to totally replace the traditional way of making denim fabric with modern and sustainable techniques.

Fortunately, many denim manufacturing companies are working hard to develop sustainable, Eco-friendly and green methods of producing denim. The companies have realized the importance of environmental protection and a sustainable way of doing business.

Which brands make sustainable jeans?

Some brands have worked out on Eco-friendly ways of producing denim and have already popularized the ‘green jeans’ or the ‘organic jeans’ concept in the fashion industry.

Here are some of these brands:

  1. Everlane
  2. Outerknown S.E.A. Jeans
  3. Warp + Weft
  4. Levi’s
  5. Taylor Stitch Organic Selvage
  6. Frank And Oak
  7. J.Crew and Madewell
  8. Reformation
  9. Mott & Bow
  10. Citizens of Humanity

Denim- A sustainable future

We have already seen in the previous sections how the traditional way of producing jeans is a threat to the environment and human health. It involves the usage of gallons of water along with the usage of chemical pesticides and herbicides for the cotton crop. The wastewater released from the industries into the waterways contains dye which makes the water poisonous and is a threat to aquatic creatures and humans.

Hence, replacing the traditional methods with the contemporary Eco-friendly methods of denim production is a need of an hour. A sustainable denim industry will be able to sustain in the future and our beloved denim will remain a part of our closet in the future also.

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