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TOP 3 ways to making denim sustainable

Finding a perfect pair of blue jeans is priceless. It is beautiful as it is rare! But just as you congratulate yourself on the miracle, it is already outdated. Welcome to fast fashion!

What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion is a lifestyle where brands focus on mass-producing catwalk trends and high fashion designs. These products are cheap, of poor quality and made to be disposed of to stay on-trend.

With the popularity of classic blue jeans, denim jackets, playsuits and accessories, denim has a very strong presence in fast fashion. In fact, with just the rise and fall of waistlines, we have seen so many trends over the just the last five years!

It is all about making a profit with no regard for the impact it has on the environment.

The Damage of Denim

For starters, denim is made from cotton, a highly demanding crop. It needs nearly 8000 litres of water and a lot of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to stay healthy. Commercially grown cotton is extremely harmful to air, water and soil in an area.

Nearly 2 billion pairs of jeans are produced every year. This needs nearly 1.4 million tonnes of raw cotton. The fashion industry keeps churning out new trends, and it is important to remember that these trends come at a great environmental impact. 

It also goes through a toxic dyeing process and chemical washes to bring you that perfect blue, distressed look. The waste produced from this process is often dumped in nearby rivers and lakes.

One of the biggest concerns with the denim industry is wastage. The take-make-dispose lifestyle means nearly 200 million tonnes of denim ends up in dump yards every year. 

However, denim is a staple in almost every wardrobe. It’s not practical to cut it out entirely. So, what do we do?

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Tips for eco-friendly denim shopping

1. Know your raw materials

When you’re buying denim, look into the brands. Some brands offer denim made from organic cotton. They also use real indigo dye over the synthetic versions. Support brands that have a responsible manufacturing process. Not surprisingly, these brands are not the top, well-known ones in the denim industry!

2. Reduce the demand for virgin materials

Denim is a highly durable fabric, that can go on, and on, and on. Instead of chucking it out, when it’s out of style, why not upcycle the material? There are many brands that bring you fun denim-wear made purely from upcycled denim, with safe manufacturing processes. 

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(Upcycled denim jacket < https://www.ourbetterplanet.com/FOLK-Women-Blue-Jacket/p/53 > by FOLK, Upcycled denim backpack by Rimagined < https://www.ourbetterplanet.com/Rimagined-Unisex-Blue-Backpack-Bag/p/1157 >, Upcycled denim laptop bag by Rimagined< https://www.ourbetterplanet.com/Rimagined-Unisex-Black-and-Blue-Laptop-Bag/p/1213 > )

These fully functional wardrobe pieces reduce your denim carbon footprint. They also double down on the longevity of denim, its greatest strength!

However, if you’re looking for a particular silhouette or cut, we recommend trying out thrift stores and resale websites. Instead of new pieces, buy gently-used pieces and give them a new life. This also means, that you can sell your own jeans when you no longer need them. 

3. Salvage what you can

Nylon threads, PVA glue, metallic accents, zippers and more make them very difficult to be recycled. However, this doesn’t mean it cannot be repurposed. While we’ve already pointed out upcycled denim wardrobe pieces, denim can be a fun addition even to your decor. 

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(Upcycled Denim Furnishing by Rimagined < https://www.ourbetterplanet.com/p/Furnishing/?category=Living&c1=10&c2=16&brand=Rimagined&page=1&colors=Blue> )

In fact, denim is the perfect place to start your new home upcycling project. From coasters and carpets to bags and bracelets, denim’s damage resistance is your best friend.

Your old favourite pair can create a bright new conversation piece, in your home or even your wardrobe! After all, in true Indian style, why let a perfectly good ‘kapda’ go to waste?

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