Making Blue Jeans Green | Seventh Generation
Skip to Content
  • Pin It

Making Blue Jeans Green

Author: sheila.B

How sustainable are your blue jeans? Not as much as they could be, according to the New York Times. In this article, Planet Home author Alexandra Zissu writes that many fashion houses are abandoning organic denim, partly because it generates an expensive price tag and partly because they are broadening their scope to make production of all jeans more sustainable. Several have joined the Better Cotton Initiative, a non-profit that focuses on sustainable agriculture techniques, including lower water use. This is happening not a minute too soon, according to a Greenpeace report that looks at the blue jean manufacturing industry in China, which produces 40% of all jeans sold in the U.S. The report finds that the dying process can be a dirty business, leaving heavy metals like cadmium and chromium in wastewater.

The most sustainable jeans, Ms. Zissu points out, are those you already own, and the best way to launder them responsibly is to use less water and energy. So wash them on the delicates cycle using only cold water and then line dry. (Many manufacturers recommend washing jeans only when you have to, and turning them inside out to preserve the color.) Seventh Generation's 2X Concentrated Liquid Laundry detergent is formulated to work with cold water, and it's free of chemicals. It's an easy way to make a big difference!

photo: Patrick Lentz


mamaH picture
Jeans that are truly worn out can be repurposed. Tote bags, purses, quilts, patches for another pr of jeans. My grandparents married at the height of the Great Depression. They learned to reduce, reuse and recycle long before it was the fashionable thing to do. They passed that mindset on to their children and grandchildren; and I am teaching my children.
mamaH picture
For years I have been buying my jeans at thrift stores. I only wash jeans as needed. Our whole family will wear their jeans for several days before they hit the laundry pile. I wash in cold water and line dry weather permitting. We live in the northern Midwest and I just cannot make myself carry laundry out to hang which will be frozen before I finish hanging the entire load. I do use the dryer till damp and then hang inside to finish drying.
1artsychick picture
Not only do I keep my jeans as long as I can, but I still have a pair of my mother's old jeans I inherited over 17 years ago. Now I try to never buy new jeans. I buy them from the thrift store. Actually, we made a pledge this year to not buy any new clothes this year. We are trying to not buy anything new. (except for food, and things you have to buy new...or it'd be gross, like underwear....) We're working hard on it, but it really is harder than we thought it would be. We didn't think we bought much. (and I think we find we are wanting more because we just took this pledge, I also think that will go away.) I did buy a new pillow this month, my pillow was completely worn out, and I buying a used pillow was one of those gross things. :) I did buy a latex pillow though, made from rubber trees, totally sustainable. we are far from perfect, but we are trying.