Your pair of jeans in numbers
Jeans are the epitome of consumerism nowadays. Each year, more than 2.3 billion pairs of jeans are sold worldwide. For comparison, the population on Earth is about 7.8 billion. Let’s now think in terms of time. There are 31,536,000 seconds in a year. This means that more than 70 pairs of jeans are sold every second.
Additionally, according to data from Ademe, France’s Agency for ecological transition, the journey of a pair of jeans, from the cotton farm to the closet of the consumer, can take up to 65,000 km. To put things into perspective – the circumference of Earth is measured around 40,000 km.
In terms of resources, the production of a pair of jeans requires between 7,000 and 10,000 litres of water. That’s what a person can drink in about 10 years. Moreover, it was estimated that this same pair produces the equivalent of 33.4kg of carbon dioxide during its lifetime. This is roughly equal to the greenhouse gas emissions from driving a car for nearly 111 km.
And for how long do we wear our favorite jeans before we get rid of them? Though we agree that this is quite a subjective variable, data shows that the average lifespan of a pair of jeans is four years.
Your jeans can do better
However, the reality is not so disappointing. The fashion industry is already working hard on minimising the impact of your pair of jeans. A number of eco-friendly labels have achieved significant improvements and today we are going to share some of the success stories.
Our list, of course, is incomplete as there are hundreds of labels that are making steps to become more transparent and to embrace more sustainable production practices. However, our purpose is to point your attention to what you can look for when choosing your next pair of jeans.
In 2013, the French label 1083 challenged itself to relocate its production to less than 1,083 km from its customers. This means that if you live in France, your jeans will be made in less than 1,083 km from your home. This is definitely less than the 65,000 km we already discussed above. Additionally, the brand launched the so called Infini jeans: the first recycled, returnable and infinitely recyclable jeans.
MUD Jeans are carbon neutral as the production of one pair emits 6,10kg of CO2. This is more than 75% less than industry standard. How does the brand do this? It relies on low energy production techniques, the use of recycled cotton and water recycling plants. Additionally, since 2016, the label has been offsetting its emissions as part of its mission to become carbon neutral.
Warp + Weft
Family-owned Warp + Weft is probably among the most size-inclusive brands out there, offering options up to women’s size 24 and 44” waists. But in addition to being obsessed with the perfect fit, the brand is also quite thoughtful towards its environmental impact. Thanks to its vertical manufacturing processes, it saves and recycles 98% of the water resources it uses, thanks to its vertical manufacturing operation.
DL1961 has a vertically integrated factory to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to facilitate water recycling. In addition to using organic and recycled cotton as well as other biodegradable fabrics, the brand relies on lasers and clean forms of indigo dye, thus making its jeans even less harmful to both people and the environment.
Though offering new pairs as well, the RE/DONE is mainly dedicated to giving heritage denim a new life. Since its inception in 2014, the brand has diverted more than 145,000 garments from landfills and reconstructed them into luxury collectables. Each style is hand-picked and hand-cut and made using water-conserving methods and no harsh chemicals.
Looking for more responsible denim brands, you can also check our latest eco-friendly denim edit.
- “What’s the environmental cost of your pair of jeans? This new book sheds light”, Lifestyle Asia
- “Can fashion ever be sustainable?”, BBC
- “Unraveled – The Life and Death of a Garment” by Maxine Bedat