Just How Green Are Your Blue Jeans?

By   January 19, 2016

Green JeansThe blue jean manufacturing industry pulls in more than $10 billion dollars annually. That is from selling more than one billing pairs of jeans annually. And as a product that is considered to be made from ‘natural’ products, there are several green environmental issues that surround the industry.

Blue jeans, which aren’t just ‘blue’ anymore, are mostly made of denim material, which comes from cotton.  Indigo dye is used on the “blue-jeans”, and red jeans are from red dye, brown from brown die, etc., etc. It is the dyeing and manufacturing process of these blue-jeans that is wreaking havoc on the green environment.

The Beginnings: Cotton Farming

Like anything grown on a farm, the process of growing conventional cotton is dependent upon on pesticides, but cotton more than any other crop. Each year, it is estimated that up to two billion dollars of chemicals are sprayed on cotton crops and half of those pesticides are considered hazardous.  Almost one-third of those fertilized crops are used for blue-jean manufacturing. So this all natural-made fabric of blue-jeans isn’t looking so green now, is it?

But the chemicals used aren’t the only concern with the process of farming the cotton for blue-jeans. Large amounts of water are needed to grow the cotton. It is estimated that almost 2,000 gallons of water is need to grow sufficient enough cotton for one pair of blue-jeans. Imagine the strain that much water requirement puts on the areas that grow cotton!

Then there is the surface draining and the groundwater systems as well as the degradation of the environment and the land erosion. The loss of natural habitat loss added to that is unsettling for many. When you consider into all this the chemical contamination, leaching, and run-off, the impact on the green environment is scary.

Taking a look at the process of dyeing the denim isn’t any better. Most jeans are dyed using indigo, which is derived from petroleum. In addition to using this oil-based chemical, hydrogen cyanide and heavy metals are also used in creating synthetic indigo. This is a whole process that has nothing green about it when you break it down.

What Can You Do To Have Greener Jeans?

You can’t do anything about jeans are manufactured or how cotton is grown. What you can do though is buy jeans that are environmentally-friendly in the manufacturing process. And buy jeans that are made from organically grown cotton and come in all-natural dyes. Then, once you no longer need or want those jeans, be green and donate them to a thrift store or a homeless shelter.