Why your Jeans are a part of the Dirty Business
Who doesn’t love a pair of well-fitted jeans? They are comfortable, easy to pair with and last very long. But then, why are your Jeans a part of Dirty Business? Your pair of jeans often referred to as “blue jeans” is typically made from Denim, which is a sturdy cotton warp-faced textile. However, the process of making jeans speaks a whole different story, one that is filled with utter horror and raising alarm.
How dirty are your jeans?
Just for a single pair of jeans, it roughly takes about one kg of cotton, 10,000 litres of water and countless hours of labour and skill. To get a better understanding of the issue, let’s get into the process of making denim jeans.
A number of stages are involved in the making of jeans including design, washing, adding of rivets, cutting and packaging. Of all these stages, washing is what causes the most perilous environmental and potential health hazards. Several chemicals are used for the intensive washes while for printing the fabric and for dyeing, heavy metals such as cadmium, land and mercury are used. The wastewater from the washing mainly goes untreated into the river. The pollution levels in the denim capital of the world – Xintang in China depicts a rather lamentable state. The water in the East River in Xintang has turned blue and smells awful. The wastewater is not fit for drinking nor for laundry and when the river overflows, the residents’ houses and yards are flooded by the wastewater.
Other issues involved are Child Labour – Children go to school during the day and work for the rest of the evenings at the factories, Landfills – garbage from clothes take up millions of cubic yards of space and Air Pollution- when the clothes decompose, the dyes break down and release toxic methane gas into the air.
What can be done to solve the ‘Dirty Jeans’ Issue?
- Reuse old Denim – your old denim can be used to make new items and can also be reused in second-hand stores. In 2013, H & M launched the garment collecting initiative worldwide. You can drop off your unwanted garments, no matter what brand and what condition, in all H&M stores across the globe.
- Recycle worn Denim – your old denim can be recycled into insulation, keeping textile waste out of the landfills. In 2009, In partnership with National Geographic Kids magazine, the Blue Jeans Go GreenTM program earned the record for “Most Items of Clothing Collected for Recycling” with 33,088 pieces of denim. The Blue Jeans Go Green program collects denim across the US and upcycles it into UltraTouchTM Denim Insulation.
- Using Organic Jeans – organic jeans are made from organic cotton, meaning they are produced without any harmful chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, growth regulators, chemical pesticides or genetic engineering and also use less water.
Today, we are already facing a crisis of fresh and clean water with an estimated 663 million people living without access to safe water close to their homes. In a growing crisis like this, even washing your denim less frequently can help save gallons of water per year. Even taking smaller individual steps will help save somebody’s life somewhere.