There is no doubt, that denim has become one of the most worn and used fabrics the world over. Today, almost everyone you know considers their trusted jeans to be a daily item of clothing. Be it with shirts, tops or even kurtas, a good pair of denim jeans always completes an outfit.
It is claimed that on average, a woman owns 7-10 pairs of jeans while men own about 6 pairs. While there’s no doubt, that a good pair of jeans is a go-to outfit, there are a couple of aspects of denim that make it an unsustainable fabric.
A study by Levi Strauss & Co found that producing just one pair of Levi jeans requires 3781 litres of water! In times when many parts of the world suffer from a lack of access to water, this accounts for the overuse of resources. Additionally, most jeans are made with synthetic dyes, which pollute our waterways and also damage our environment.
Even so, however eco-conscious you may be, don’t jump to discard your jeans just yet. The biggest pro of owning denim is that it can last for ages. With the right maintenance and mindful reuse of your clothing, you can make sure to reduce or delay the environmental impact of your denim clothing. Let’s look at some of these solutions today!
1. Pick the right size for your body type: This may seem like a very obvious point to make, but finding a pair of jeans that fits ‘just right’ is a challenge most of us face. Getting that ideal waist and hip proportion is often a challenge, especially for those of us who don’t fit the conventional standard sizes. Sure, you always have the option to alter a pair to your size, but here’s why picking the correct fit is crucial:
Jeans tend to stretch and open out mildly with use. When you pick the correct fit for your body, you’re more inclined to wear it comfortably and hence often.
If you find yourself stuck somewhere in between 2 sizes, it's recommended to take the slightly bigger size, as it can be worn comfortably with a belt or a few tucks. Also in the event that you gain or lose a few inches over time, such a pair of jeans will still come in handy and you won’t necessarily have to buy a new one!
Denim jeans also tend to offer a great variety to suit different body types. Based on what suits you best, opt for either a pair of skinny jeans, boot cut, wide leg or baggy jeans. Choosing the right style is almost as important as finding the right size, as this will ensure you won’t outgrow the style anytime soon!
Since denim requires such high amounts of water to be produced, it's best to pick your clothing wisely. The end goal should always be to ensure that you’ll make frequent use of your denim clothing. Finding an ideal size plays a big role in ensuring the same.
2. Scout for eco-friendly alternatives: If sustainability is always your top priority, but you also find it hard to cope without an ‘everyday’ pair of jeans, this one’s for you! Today, there are quite a few options for ethical denim that have enabled conscious buyers to find a middle ground between their comfort and eco-friendly ethics. Here are a few features of ethical denim and some eco-friendly alternatives to try:
Denim made from organic cotton
Clothing and accessories made from upcycled or recycled denim
Thrift denim! If you’re comfortable re-owning secondhand clothing, you can opt for vintage denim found at thrift stores. You’ll be surprised at some of your unique finds!
Denim clothes made from deadstock fabric (that means, it’s made from unsold stock!)
Jeans made without the use of toxic dyes and/or under a circular model (this means, that all the resources used in the process are reused and not wasted!)
Keeping these few points in mind, you can scout for brands that meet a few or all of these parameters! Today, around 35% of jeans globally, are made using sustainable methods, so this should be a relatively easy find! 3. Maintaining your denim, mindfully: Once you’ve bought your denim clothing of choice, what’s most crucial is making it last you longer than average as it costs a lot to the planet. The more you maintain your denim (or any clothing for that matter), the more you’ll prolong its life cycle and prevent it from turning to waste. One commonly recommended way is not to wash your jeans too frequently. Since denim is a thick and somewhat dirt-resistant fabric, you can make it a point to wash your jeans once every 5 wears (the standard average is once every 3 wears, so if you tend to sweat often or go outdoors a lot, you can follow this!). Some experts even recommend washing jeans only once a month, so basis your frequency of use, you can choose to phase out this step! Besides the washing frequency, there are 2 more key aspects of maintaining your denim:
Laundry And Cleaning Methods: -Use good quality, natural detergents to wash your jeans. Most commercial detergents contain whitening chemicals that may fade your jeans faster and also dry cleaning should be avoided. A natural, plant-based detergent is not only fabric and skin-safe, but also non-polluting! -Turn your jeans inside-out while washing- This prevents fading too! Additionally, if you have darker colour denim, it's always safer to wash it with other dark clothing!
-Dry your jeans naturally. If you tend to use a dryer at home, tumble-drying jeans can lead to damage. Rather, try to let your jeans dry naturally by hanging them in the open air or on a laundry stand.
Appropriate Storage Methods: A lot of us own more than one piece of denim clothing. Jackets, shirts, and jeans are some denim basics seen in every wardrobe. Often, a couple of these can also go unused for months on end, especially when the weather changes! At times like these, it's best to store your denim clothing appropriately. Once again, denim’s high durability works in your favour, as it doesn’t require very delicate storing methods. However, it is recommended to either stack or fold your jeans together on a shelf in your cupboard or a drawer. However, for shirts and jackets, try and hang them instead of folding them.
4. Tips for reuse: If you’re completely sure that your favourite pair of jeans is no longer wearable, it still doesn’t mean they need to be discarded! There’s a lot you can do with one old pair of denim to make it feel as good as new. Try a few of our upcycling and reuse tips to give your jeans a new life:
Convert your jeans into shorts! Yep, all you need is your neighbourhood masterji’s help and you’re good to go. If you’ve had enough of the full-length jeans you own, trim them into capris or shorts and you have a new piece of clothing at hand!
Heal those tears creatively! If your favourite pair just managed to get a tear, don’t fret over it. Rather, you can opt to patch a colourful print or graphic embroidery over the torn areas and make yourself a pair of patchwork jeans! Additionally, you can also choose to strategically slash your jeans and create a ripped pair for yourself!
If your creative juices are flowing, another great tip is to use the legs of your jeans to create denim sleeves for an outfit! This may require some creative help from a good tailor, but it's a great way to turn an old dress into something new and unique!
Lastly, if you don’t see yourself wearing these denim clothes again, upcycle them into other utilities around the house. For example, parts of your jeans or denim shirt can be cut to create pouches, wallets and teeny gift pouches! Additionally, you can also cut your denim clothing into neat squares, and add some lace trimming and that can be used to make table mats or coasters!
Being such a highly versatile fabric, denim can be re-fashioned in many ways to prevent waste. Put your DIY skills to the test and get creative!
5. When all else is done- Recycle & Repurpose!
It took a lot of resources to evolve the denim in the current form. If you’re not the most creative cookie out there, we get it. While upcycling at home is a sustainable move, it's not always a convenient option for all. So the next best thing to do is to send in your denim clothing for recycling. Recycled denim today has a huge demand as more brands shift to sustainable alternatives, so this will ensure your clothes find a better purpose. Additionally, you can also send in your used denim clothing to us at Dwij! We use your worn-out jeans to create 100% upcycled bags and accessories, which last a lifetime. The earnings are also used to fund social welfare causes, putting your donations to good use in every right! If you’d like to send your jeans in, click here! If you’d like to see our bags and explore the collection, you can check them out here.