Jeans never goes out of style and most of us find ourselves adding a new pair every year. A popular product, denims have formed the basis of fashion since the early 20th century. As demand for jeans continue to thrive, many us go on wearing them every day, unaware about the detrimental effects they have on the environment, which is an intrinsic problem of the fashion industry.
Contrary to popular belief, denims are easy to make; on average a denim factory can produce 2,500 pairs of jeans a day. No wonder the fashion industry mindlessly manufactures them. But the problem lies in the production process, specifically the cultivation of cotton; the main raw material required to manufacture the denim fabric and the extraction of pumice stone and fine sand.
A Very Resource Intensive Product
Firstly, cotton cultivation requires a lot of water, leading to high stress levels to the local water table in the areas cotton is grown.
During the manufacturing process, all denims are weathered or stone washed with pumice stone, which is a volcanic stone found in mines. The mining and transportation of these stones to denim factories all over the world has a huge carbon footprint. The disposal of broken-down pumice stone is another huge problem. If not handled properly, left over pumice powder is often dumped into watersheds, polluting local rivers and streams.
Another hazardous ingredient is fine sand which is an aesthetic added to reflect a vintage appeal. The fine sand which contains silica particles is harmful to factory workers. If proper protective equipment is not used, in the long run, ingestion of a small quantities of silica particles can cause lung disease and cancer.
The final product will undergo extensive washing, dying, chemical sprays to add aesthetic appeals, and overall the lifecycle of a single pair of denim would use around 7,600 liters of water. Since the main raw material is cotton, jeans take a long time to biodegrade, around 30 years.
I Can’t Give Up That Denim Life, What Should I Do?
The problems surrounding the denim industry may sound complex, but new sustainable alternatives are being developed. Brands and consumers are driving this change, so we can still wear our favorite pair of denim without guilt. One the latest trends combating fashion waste is upcycling.
The term may sound similar to recycling, but upcycling is quite different. It is reusing waste without destroying it in order to create something new. The products you can create by upcycling old items are only limited by your imagination. Almost anything lying unused around the house can be turned into something cool, useful, good looking and functional. You can find some really popular or bizarre homemade items on our Instagram page @green_initiatives.
Denim Upcycling DIY workshops by UseDem
Upcycling denim has become an innovative way to turn old jeans into new items, as it promotes the idea of reusing, and buying less. Green Initiatives has partnered with UseDem to repurpose old denims into attractive bags, backpacks, aprons, slippers or anything you want.
UseDem conducts interactive workshops for communities and corporates, where individuals cut and sew their old denims to make new stuff for themselves.
This not only avoids denims from ending up in the landfills, and getting people to buy less; but also creates a special bond with the hand-crafted product created by individuals.
Xenia Sidorenko the designer behind the UseDem project, conducts the workshops herself with the goal to make us think twice about what we throw away and how we consume, in order to save the many precious resources that goes into making those denims.
Contact us to conduct a fun and interactive workshop like this for your team.