Denim is one of my favourite fabrics, it’s just simply bloody epic. However, like most things we love, it’s bad for us. Denim is actually a pretty crappy product when talking about the environment. It’s by far the most polluting, thirsty and laborious piece of fashion out there.
To grow the amount of cotton needed for an average pair of jeans it takes around 8,200 litres of water
It takes an unbelievable amount of water to make a pair of denims. Globally (maybe not in rainy England) water is a rarity and in many places where denim is produced, lack of water is life threatening. However, day to day we wash our hands or switch the dishwasher on and probably don’t think about how much water we are wasting. BUT, even if you are a water conscious master at home, it’s hard to comprehend, let alone control, the amount of water that’s wasted when you buy clothes.
To grow the amount of cotton needed for an average pair of jeans, it takes around 8,200 litres of water. That’s way way more than we would drink in a year. And that’s just the cotton. When you include the dye process, as well as the machine washing, it bumps up by another 100-500 litres. For one pair of denim jeans.
Seeing the damaging impact denim has on our environment and people was the tipping point in my career. I saw rivers flowing with purple dyes which were the heartbeat of many surrounding communities - the same water that they use to grow their crops and wash their clothes. Seeing the water pollution and then walking into a factory and seeing people scrubbing the denim jeans with their bare hands made me hate my industry.
I love wearing denim, but I care about the environment too, and I certainly don’t want to wear denim that causes a worker’s hands to turn blue.
There must be a better way to make denim.
· If we change from conventional cotton to organic, or even pre-organic (meaning that the farmer works in an organic way but doesn’t lose any money in the transitional period) this makes a great difference. Organic means basically that the farmer doesn’t use chemicals and farms using less water. It’s harder work for the farmers and initially costlier, however it means their soil is much healthier which in turn brings them a stronger and better quality yield.
Using recycled cotton, new fibres, recycled poly or even good old-fashioned hemp are also solutions to cut the amount of water wasted..
· The dying process is another bugger in this mountain of production processes. Indigo is the most common dye colour. Indigo is a natural plant but very rarely are the denims dyed with the natural dye. Instead it’s just pure chemicals, which people in the factories are breathing in all day long.
Instead, let’s refer back to the original source, natural dyes.
I remember telling my grandfather this when I turned up to a family dinner in ripped jeans. He physically sighed with disgusted dismay.
· Trend tells us that buying NEW denim which is already worn to threads is fashion. So factories make new jeans, then these goes to an area in the factory where people literally destroy them, then they are packed and shipped. I remember telling my grandfather this when I turned up to a family dinner in ripped jeans. He physically sighed with disgusted dismay.
Instead, we can use ozone and laser machines, which wash using at least 50% less water and create rips and texture with no manual labour at all.
These are just a few of the many things we do to make our denims different. But it shows, that even If we only cut our water consumption by half, instantly we save millions of gallons of water.
Our denim is organic cotton, our thread is recycled, our pocket bags are recycled fabric pieces collected from old production. Our metal trims are a mixture of recycled and nickel free metal, our water usage is 60% less than normal processes and our faux leather patch is made from recycled apple juice waste.
So, why are major retailers not doing it? Well, the simple answer is, it means changing their supply chain, which isn’t an overnight or easy change to make.
This is when being a start-up comes in handy. We have started off being a completely sustainable company, if we can’t make it in a sustainable way, we simply don’t make it at all.
We have more ideas to make fashion more sustainable, so please support us in our mission change fashion from bad to good. We’ve started a kickstarter to help us in our mission. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tobefrank/fashion-made-of-rubbish
You can help change the world by changing your denim.
All the love