Making Blue Jeans Green

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

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Sheila B likes to write about women's issues and the environment.

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