The Problem with Jeans & 5 Water Sustainable Jean Brands
What’s the problem with your backside you may ask? It’s whats on it every day. Well if you’re like me, jeans are the staple of all staples! I have multiple pairs: all for different occasions; different days - thin days, fat days, ‘edgy’ days (taking me back to those Bristol days) and country days. The list could go on. If this sounds familiar then our impact has not been that of an angel.
Water footprint of jeans
A pair of jeans uses 7000 litres of water to produce. Yes, you read that correctly, seven thousand litres! Cotton, the primary material from which jeans are made, has a raging thirst. To create 1 kilogram of conventional cotton (roughly the amount needed for a shirt and a pair of jeans) can take an astounding 10,000 – 20,000 litres of water. The water footprint of a pair of jeans is astronomical, yet we seem to have a new pair of jeans each season. Shops like Zara make that a convenience, rather than a necessity. To the fashion industry, water is the cheapest material they can get their hands on, so they pay little attention to its value – using it carelessly and as a disposable fluid that is not reused within a closed loop cycle.
Toxicity of jeans
Another issue with the jean industry is the toxic chemicals used to dye our jeans, with the true impact being highlighted in the movie River Blue (I would advise anyone to give this a watch – it will change your life!). They say in China that you tell the colour of the season by the colour of the river. Greenpeace have taken up this issue with their campaign Greenpeace Detox Campaign that has resulted in 79 of the leading fashion brands to sign up to reduce the number of chemicals used in their dying processes.
But with the world changing there are several brands leading the way in the social responsibility sphere and reinstating value into water: reducing the quantity used and protecting the quality, to produce a pair of jeans.
Should the jeans on your back(side) be costing the earth and it’s water?
Remember quality over quantity. They will be worth every penny. This could be the start of you changing your consumption patterns and doing your part to saving the world.
Here are 5 water sustainable brands to buy your jeans from and start your sustainable journey:
1. M.i.H –
Starting at: £160
M.i.h top the style and sustainability charts with their jeans in my eyes. Their wide range of styles and push for sustainability has led M.i.h to be dubbed the “The London Girl’s Denimn Brand’. From their skinny and straight-leg silhouettes to their bold, retro 1970's style denim, these jeans offer a unique style to fit any personality.Although an expensive option, buying a pair M.i.h jeans is an investment in for your legs and the environment.
Their latest collection ‘The Paradise Capsule’ is the most sustainable and lowest impact denim that included the best low impact fabrics and processes. They aim to reach this level of sustainability for all their jeans by 2020. In the fight against water consumption and pollution in the fashion industry, M.i.h are leading the charge.
They are working towards reducing their environmental impact across the supply chain. M.i.h are interested in reducing the amount of water used to produce a pair of jeans and the impact on the water quality. M.i.H are committed to reducing the non-organic chemicals in their supply chain from how the denim is dyed to how there are faded.
Their ethics revolve around sustainability and quality – a brand that I will certainly be making an investment in. They are set to launch a repair service and a reuse initiative. “Better to have fewer higher quality jeans”, then plenty of mediocre – I’m with them there.
M.i.h can be found in London in Fenwick, New Bond Street; Liberty, 220 Regent Street; and Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, or alternatively online.
Location: Derbyshire, UK
Starting at: £60
Monkee Genes set their brand apart by taking on issues of fair trade and child labour. All of Monkee Genes are from organic cotton. Organic cotton is free from toxic pesticides and fertilisers that are normally used to protect and grow the plant. Instead organic fertilizers and pesticides are used. The importance of organic cotton ensures the improvement of the quality of the soil and the wildlife needed to keep the land fertile. However most significantly it protects the local water systems that can be contaminated by the harmful chemicals used in conventional cotton farming. They also raise attention to harmful effects of pesticides on the farmers and pickers who are affected by the toxicity of the artificial pesticides.
Many pluses of getting your genes in the monkeegenes including maintaining and protecting the water quality across the world.
Starting at: €45
Armadangels are one of the cheaper options for sustainable jeans and are now being sold at Peter Jones & John Lewis. Taking responsibility and protecting the environment is pivotal to this business. Therefore they only use sustainable materials such as organic cotton, organic linen, organic wool, recycled polyester, Lenzing Modal® and Tencel®. I have a pair of their black jeans and although they aren’t my comfiest, I do feel good wearing them knowing they were made responsibly.
Starting at: €110
Another Dutch brand leading the way in social responsibility who practice what they preach. Kuyichi’s focus lies in reducing the amount of water they use, and keeping water free from pesticides, chemical or other hazardous substances. From the material they use (only organic GOTS certified cotton to Tencel fibres), to the dyeing process, to the processing they are making important progress. All the water they do use is in a closed loop cycle which is much more that many other producers can say. To top it all off they’ve also committed to have recycled content in 75% of their jenas by 2020 to the Global Fashion Agenda. This decreases the amount of water used in a denim massively, since they re-use cotton that has already been used in a clothing piece before. Quite frankly, I’m sold. I need a pair of their jeans!
Starting at: $130
G-Star Raw have created a Certified Gold G-star denim by Cradle to Cradle (a certification to change the way we make things.)
G-Star Raw are shouting from the roof tops their knowledge of how to make their most sustainable jeans. Their 100% organic cotton uses 91% less water and zero harmful chemicals. They have created a clean and sustainable dying process for indigo jeans that uses no salts and 70% less chemicals. This means that no water is wasted – all recycled and reused. They go further and use washing techniques that don’t waste water and energy as they let nature dry the jeans that uses 85% less energy.
However, as they are US based, ones water footprint may be reduced if you choose a European based brand, but definitely worth a look into.
Some other options are:
Why wouldn't you invest in a sustainable pair of jeans now you know?
Happy shopping. Happy wearing people :) And happy water!