Not so Eco-friendly jeans

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We probably all have at least one pair of denim jeans in our wardrobe. They are comfortable and versatile. However, here you can read some significant downsides of a pair of jeans. 

How eco-friendly is your jeans?

CO2 production

According to demin producer Levi Strauss & Co. the average impact of a pair of their brand's jeans is 33.4 kg CO2 for its complete life cycle. This includes every step from fiber (cotton and fabric) production, manufacturing, transportation and distribution, consumer care and recycling or disposal. The production stage is responsible for approximately 59% (19,7kg) of the climate change impact, while the use of jeans and end of life process accounts for the 41% (13,7kg) remaining. For comparison, the CO2 emission for a small car is about 1kg for every 8km / 3,2 miles.

Water usage

It takes around 1,800 gallons / 6800 liters of water to grow enough cotton to produce just one pair of jeans. Including everything else from the dying process to machine washing at the consumer, this makes the total almost 10,000 gallon / 37,000 liter of water. This is an amazing amount of water.


Consumers can reduce this by wearing their jeans more times before washing. By wearing jeans 10 times before washing, US consumers can reduce their water and climate change impact by 77%, U.K. and French consumers by 75% and Chinese consumers by 61%.


Did you know that the global industrial water pollution is for 20% caused by the garment manufacturing industry and that 85 percent of water used in textile processing goes into dying the fabrics? This often causes leads to run off, thereby polluting nearby water sources affecting not only nature but humans as well. Natural water sources are affected by mismanaged toxic waste, excessive pesticide use and, the chemical poisoning of land that was once used to produce food.


Yearly, 25 billion gallons of water is required for global textile production and 1.3 trillion gallons of water is needed for fabric dyeing alone.

How eco-friendly is your jeans?

Human working conditions

Cotton crops can only be grown in tropical or sub-tropical climates. These are often in developing countries such as Pakistan, India, China or Turkey. Cotton factory workers often suffer from poverty, starvation, suicides, fatal diseases and, don't have access to clean water. These are all results of poor waste water management and working conditions for these people. 

So, how can we reduce the carbon footprint of the clothes we wear every day? Here are a few tips: 

- Stop buying new jeans. Buy vintage and second-hand clothing. Read here about more advantages of second hand shopping.

- When you’re buying new clothing, choose garments made from eco-friendly, natural fabrics such as bamboo, organic cotton and hemp. These materials have a lower carbon footprint compared to conventional cotton or synthetic fibers.

- Invest in quality clothes. It’s better in the long run to buy a good quality t-shirt than a cheap one that will rip straight away.

- Instead of buying new clothes when you are no longer into them, give yours a makeover! Get creative and DIY them a new lease of life.


I hope this helps you along the way to a more sustainable wardrobe and makes you think a little more before you purchase a new piece of clothing. 

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