New guidelines seek to make blue jeans more sustainable

An overwhelming majority of people around the world wear blue jeans, so if we are going to make a form of clothing sustainable, jeans are the perfect place to start. And that’s what one organization is working to achieve.

Sustainability in the clothing industry is becoming more important than ever before as the threat of climate change continues strain our available resources for production. Even jeans, which rely on cotton as the principle material, are unsustainable as higher global temperatures threaten cotton crops.

Just producing a single pair of jeans requires 919 gallons of water, including water for the cotton crop, water for manufacture and water for washing. As the world faces shrinking water resources, we’ll have to one day choose between jeans and hydration.

Achieving the “worn” look is even more wasteful and environmentally damaging.

So, given that blue jeans are supposed to be durable clothing that lasts, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Make Fashion Circular is seeking to make them more sustainable so we can continue making them.

“The way we produce jeans is causing huge problems with waste and pollution, but it doesn’t have to be this way,” a Make Fashion Circular spokesperson told Treehugger. “By working together we can create jeans that last longer, that can be remade into new jeans at the end of their use, and are made in ways which are better for the environment and the people that make them.”

And that’s where the Jeans Redesign Guidelines come in.

The organization created a list of guidlines that “set out minimum requirements on garment durability, material health, recyclability and traceability…based on the principles of the circular economy and will work to ensure jeans last longer, can easily be recycled, and are made in a way that is better for the environment and the health of garment workers.”

Among the guidelines jean manufacturers need to strive for includes:

– Designing so that a pair of jeans can withstand at least 30 washes

– Garment includes clear product care information on labels

– Contains at least 98 percent cellulose fibers made from regenerative, organic or transitional farming methods

– Does not use hazardous chemicals, conventional electroplating, stone finishing, sandblasting, or potassium permanganate in finishing

– Does not contain metal rivets (or keeps these to a minimum)

– Jeans are easy to disassemble for recycling

– Information easily available regarding each component of the garment

And the movement to make blue jeans sustainable has many participants, even jean manufacturers such as C&A, H&M, GAP, Vero Mode, Arving, Mud Jeans, Lee Jeans and Tommy Hilfiger. Lee Jeans is considered one of the big three jean brands in the world, the other two being Levi’s and Wrangler, both of which will hopefully throw their own weight behind the cause.

Because this only works if every company is on board, especially the heavy hitters who sell the most pairs around the globe.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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