Making a greener wardrobe? You may want to start with jeans

To have a more sustainable wardrobe, we don't necessarily have to give up jeans if we choose them well

Published: Aug 11, 2021 05:23:36 PM IST
Updated: Aug 11, 2021 05:48:31 PM IST

Making a greener wardrobe?  You may want to start with jeansA must-have in both men's and women's wardrobes, jeans have been subject to much scrutiny as environmental sustainability has become, quite rightly, a main concern of brands and consumers alike
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We often talk about spring cleaning, but back-to-school and the fall is also the ideal time to put your life in order, as well as your wardrobe, in order to start the new season on the right foot. And since 2021 is all about consumer awareness, why not take advantage of this time to make your wardrobe more sustainable? Starting with our jeans, one of the most polluting—and most worn—items in the world. Jeans have a place in our closets... as long as we choose them carefully.

A must-have in both men's and women's wardrobes, jeans have been subject to much scrutiny as environmental sustainability has become, quite rightly, a main concern of brands and consumers alike. In fact, jeans have been criticized and for some environmentalists are "THE" piece to banish from our wardrobes. But this radical solution is not necessarily the most realistic, as denim has taken a starring role in our wardrobes in recent decades. We're here to reassure you, it's not necessary to go to those extremes because many brands now offer jeans that combine quality, durability and responsible production. As long as you make the right choices...

Less polluting materials
Brands have been putting forward, one after another, more sustainable denim collections for several months now. Their revamped approaches include the choice of less polluting fibers, such as GOTS certified organic cotton, recycled cotton, or Tencel, which are the most common—but these aren't the only ones. These raw materials not only reduce water consumption (3,781 liters of water are needed to make one pair of jeans, according to the United Nations Environment Program), but also chemical use and carbon emissions. When you renew your wardrobe, consider this important criterion when choosing your new jeans.

Jeans that don't travel long distances
In her investigation "Unraveled - The Life and Death of a Garment" published in June, Maxine Bedat followed the journey of an average pair of jeans, which starts in a cotton farm in Texas and ends in Amazon's warehouses after having stopped in sewing workshops in Bangladesh. A near interminable journey—a pair of jeans can travel up to 65,000 km according to Ademe, France's Agency for ecological transition—which is just extremely polluting because of the numerous transports used for this perilous journey. And beyond the question of environmental sustainability, Maxine Bedat also points out the working conditions of the textile workers,  also to be taken into account. It is therefore better to opt for local manufacturing, wherever you are in the world. This is what the brand 1083—a name chosen for the maximum distance covered by its jeans in kilometers—offers for the French market with models designed exclusively in France.

Jeans that have staying power
In recent months, this is a question that has come up again and again, and continues to be debated. Is it better to buy a pair of jeans that will last at least a decade or a couple of jeans that will be unwearable within a few years? It's important to be aware of the fact that today the average lifespan of a pair of jeans is four years, according to Ademe, which is not much considering the environmental impact of the garment. Since they are considered to be timeless pieces, jeans deserve certain investment—and maintenance—to last and therefore reduce their impact on the planet. To overcome this problem and make sustainable, high-quality jeans accessible, many brands are turning to jeans that can be returned in the system of bottle deposits, or even jeans that are infinitely recyclable, with customers having the possibility to receive a voucher or an amount reimbursed when the model is at the end of its life and is brought back. This allows consumers to renew their wardrobe at a lower cost, while the brand is able to manufacture new jeans from an existing material. A circular approach that benefits both the planet and the wallet.

And if such a solution still does not satisfy the denim lovers, there is always the secondhand market which allows consumers to buy quality, durable jeans at a lower cost.

Some references
Nudie Jeans, Kings of Indigo, Atelier Tuffery, 1083, AVN, and MUD Jeans are among the brands known for sustainable denim.

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