From: Bridgette Meinhold, Low Impact Living, More from this Affiliate
Published August 21, 2009 10:03 AM

Green Your Blue Jeans

Blue jeans are classic, and a staple in almost every American’s wardrobe. They’re comfortable, versatile, durable and they look great too. There are jeans for every shape and size and if you ever find a pair of jeans that fit you perfectly - buy them. That is, as long as they’re organic cotton or vintage. And when you’ve worn out the knees or moved on to a better fit, make use of your old jeans by recycling them. Why this emphasis on eco jeans?

Did you know it takes about 2/3 pound of fertilizer and pesticides to grow enough conventional cotton to make a pair of jeans? Conventional cotton production is responsible for 11% of the world’s pesticides and 25% of the world’s insecticides. The workers who harvest the cotton are exposed to these dangerous chemicals, and five of the top nine pesticides used in cotton production are known carcinogens according to the EPA. The dye used to color the jeans is a synthetic indigo, which can drain into nearby waterways. And to get that stone-washed, worn-out look, jeans go through a rigorous process involving sand paper, chemicals and bleaches, which often end up polluting nearby waterways and ecosystems.

Used or Vintage Jeans

When you’re in the market for a new pair of jeans, look first to vintage or thrift store jeans, which require no extra pollution or energy to produce. Online stores like Vintage Trends, Etsy and Ebay have scores of vintage and used jeans. Otherwise, you are certain to find lots of jeans in your nearby thrift stores. Remember jeans can be easily altered by a tailor to fit you perfectly.

Organic Denim Jeans

If you can’t find your favorite fit in older or vintage jeans, many new brands are making organic denim jeans that minimize the chemicals and toxins. Well-known brands like Gap and Levis are have a number of organic cotton jeans in their lineup. And here are some other brands that have organic cotton and non-toxic dyes:

Del Forte Organic Denim
7 For All Mankind
Good Society
Mission Playground
Sharkah Chakra
Edun
Loomstate
Howies UK
Mavi
Planet Earth Green Label

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Reuse Your Old Jeans

Jeans get worn and then they get worn out, stretched out and ripped. It’s hard to say goodbye to your favorite pair of jeans. But fear not, you can transform your jeans into something useful. Grab your scissors and a sewing machine for a DIY project to turn those jeans into a wallet, bag, skirt, apron, potholders and more. Check out Threadbanger for their amazing roundup of DIY projects using old jeans.

Recycle Your Old Jeans

Aren’t the crafty type you say, well that’s ok too. There’s still a place for your worn out jeans. There are a few companies out there now who would be happy to take your old jeans and shred them up for insulation. You may have heard of recycled cotton batt insulation, which is made from recycled denim. Cotton batt insulation comes in a roll and is very easy to install in between stud framing. It is also non-toxic and contains no chemicals or harsh irritants, and it has a R-value of 3.7, which is higher than most fiberglass batts. And at 3.5” of insulation, you get R 13.

Bonded Logic is one of the most well known companies manufacturing recycled cotton batt insulation. Most of their denim material comes from the floors of manufacturing plants, but they do incorporate some recycled jeans. You can send your jeans to Green Jeans Insulation, who will take your old jeans and process them into insulation. You can also learn more about the process at CottonFromBluetoGreen.org, which is in part sponsored by America’s Cotton Producers and Importers.

So whether you turn them into something useful for yourself or you send them off to become insulation, you’ll have kept those hardworking jeans out of the landfill and extended their life.

This article was reproduced with the kind permission of Low Impact Living.

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