Shopping for Clean Jeans

Shopping for Clean Jeans

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For clothes firms seeking to make the style business extra sustainable, denim is an apparent place to begin. Jeans are among the many most-worn gadgets of clothes in American closets. And denim manufacturing has a better environmental affect than most materials. But denim can also be a sturdy material produced from natural fibers. Denim garments are usually classics that persons are pleased to hold on to for a very long time. When firms make denim with natural agriculture and extra environmentally pleasant manufacturing processes, denim might be an vital staple in your sustainable wardrobe.

Dirty Denim

Clothing manufacturing has vital environmental impacts at every step within the provide chain. Those provide chains are shockingly opaque – many manufacturers don’t know how or the place their garments are made. In 2022, solely 48% of brands printed their first-tier producers. Only 9 of the 250 manufacturers studied achieved a 90% transparency rating. Every yr, 40 million tons of textiles are disposed – up to 20% of them by no means even offered.

Growing cotton consumes and pollutes huge portions of water, degrades soil, and generates chemical air pollution that harms staff and habitats. Denim is a excessive affect cotton product, due to the extra environmental prices of repeated wash cycles, water air pollution from the dying course of, the usage of synthetics like Lycra and spandex in stretch denims, and the hazardous chemical compounds that create totally different washes and finishes. Jeans have among the largest footprints within the style business with emissions of 33.4 kilograms CO2-eq per pair. On common, it takes 1,800 gallons of water to develop sufficient cotton to make one pair of denims.


Denim model Amendi is 100% transparent and traceable. Customers can use the SKU quantity to hint a garment’s manufacturing path via suppliers which have signed Code of Conduct commitments. On every product web page, clients can verify the origin of the garment and the supplies used within the material, tags, and seams, in addition to the water and vitality utilized in manufacturing. They use 100% natural cotton for his or her non-stretch denims. They use recycled supplies for many denim trims and produce finishes utilizing lasers and wash balls quite than chemical remedies.

Detroit Denim

The environmental focus of Detroit Denim is waste discount. They use a made-to-order mannequin that reduces waste from overproduction. Each pair is custom-made to fulfill the consumer’s dimension, form, and magnificence preferences, additional lowering waste from returns. Their denims are made to final in Detroit, the place additionally they carry out mail-in repairs and tailoring to additional lengthen the life of every product.

Close-up of man's hands, as he looks at jeans on display in store
On common, it takes 1,800 gallons of water to develop sufficient cotton for only one pair of denims.


A family-owned round denim producer based mostly in New York, DL1961 makes use of post-consumer recycled materials, renewable fibers like Tencel, and authorized natural cotton to make their denims. Powered by photo voltaic panels and a warmth restoration system, their closed-loop manufacturing course of recycles 98% of the water it makes use of, so every pair of denims consumes solely 10 gallons of water. They additionally use safer dyes and chemical-free ending strategies.

Good American

Good American is a woman-owned B Corporation that makes denim and different clothes. Although their advertising focus is dimension inclusivity, additionally they have a robust sustainability program. Using a drop mannequin of small batch manufacturing reduces deadstock waste of merchandise produced from higher materials, together with recycled and natural cotton. Their denim makes use of a wash course of that reduces water utilization between 15% to 44% (relying on the end). Their garments are produced in factories powered by photo voltaic vitality.


To most individuals, denims are by definition produced from cotton. Sustainability isn’t the first focus of premium denim firm, LA-based Slvrlake. But most of their denims are 100% GOTS licensed cotton. And buried amongst these choices is a small line of denims produced from hemp – one of many best natural fabric selections for sustainability.


The largest firms have the most important footprints, however when the denim elephant within the room makes a course of change, it makes a huge impact. Levi’s switched to a processing system they name Water<Less in 2011 that has saved roughly 13 billion liters of water up to now. They eradicated PFCs and PFAS from all of their merchandise by 2018. In 2021, they reported a 66% discount in Scope 1 GHG emissions, and 22% discount in provide chain emissions over base yr 2016. In 2021, they joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign venture.

Denim Shopping

In 2019, the Ellen MacArthur basis launched “The Jeans Redesign,” a set of tips for denims makers to maneuver in the direction of round design and cut back their waste and air pollution from their manufacturing processes. When you’re looking for new denims, search for manufacturers and kinds that comply with these tips:

  1. Few or no rivets for simpler recycling
  2. Raw denim end and indigo washes to keep away from poisonous ending remedies
  3. At least 98% however ideally 100% cellulosic fibers (cotton, hemp, or Tencel/lyocell)

Denim is usually a sturdy material that ages properly, so it’s a excellent candidate for second-hand and classic procuring.