How much water does it take to make a pair of blue jeans?
It takes in average 1500 gallons of water to produce a single pair of blue jeans.
That includes growing the cotton and the manufacturing, but it doesn’t include the water that you’ll use to wash your jeans over time.
One third of the water needed to make a pair of jeans is used to grow the plants (e.g. cotton). The rest is used to produce the fabric. (Read our article about the environmental cost of a cotton t-shirt).
What are blue jeans made of?
Most blue jeans are made of cotton. The jeans are prepared, washed and bleached. They receive many treatments. All these steps require hundreds of liters of water.
Blue jeans are not the only clothes that have such an impact. The entire textile industry is the second largest polluter of clean water globally, after agriculture. And cotton is not the only problem. Polyester is the most popular fabric used for fashion. It is synthetic, and is made from plastic fibers. But when washed in domestic washing machines, polyester clothes shed microfibres that end up in our oceans.
But these are not the only problems…
Pesticides and fertilizers used to make the plants grow quickly pollute the soils and the long journeys (by boat or plane) between the countries where the crops are harvested and those where the manufacturing takes place, located in Africa and Asia, produce a lot of CO2.
What can we do?
Fast fashion encourages people to buy more and more, and produces 92 million tons of solid waste dumped in landfills each year.
Slow down! Choose better quality clothes, keep them longer, mend them when needed, and recycle or upcycle them. Visit second hand shops first and have a look at their collection: it is easy to find cool stuff, often cheaper!
TOP Sustainable Blue Jeans Brands
If you are looking for a large choice of sustainable blue jeans brands, visit The Ethical Choice, our eco-brand directory.
Otherwise, find our selection of the TOP 5 best sustainable blue jeans brands:
DL1961 is a family-owned brand, creating premium denim with sustainability at their core since 2008.
They start by shredding old denim and post-consumer waste into smaller and smaller pieces, then weaving those into new yarn with eco-friendly fibers and high-performance stretch. The jeans are constructed and hand-finished using waterless laser and Ozone technologies in their family-owned manufacturing facilites.
While a regular jean takes about 1,500 gallons of water to produce, theirs take less than 10 gallons. They also treat and recycle 98% of the water they do use.
Overseeing the entire process from fiber to finished garment, they pride themselves on their leading fabric and sustainability technologies. Learn more about their sustainability practices.
Amourt Vert is a clothing brand that puts sustainability at the core of everything they do, including denim! All their clothes are made with through their commitment to artisan-made elements, responsible supply chains, pure and low impact materials, conscious packaging, and circularity.
They even have their own resale marketplace called ReAmour to encourage the use of pre-loved and second hand clothes.
Transparency is at the core of their sustainability mindset, and they are very open about all their efforts to minimise their impact on the planet, from the materials they use, their production methods, to their second-hand marketplace. Find out more about their sustainability efforts here.
Warp + Weft is a family-owned company that’s been in the denim business for three decades. Their eco-friendly mill is one of the world’s largest textile manufacturers, which means they can create high quality denim that’s good for you, the planet, and your wallet.
A traditional pair of jeans takes 1,500 gallons of water to make, but a pair of Warps requires less than 10. Beyond that, they treat and recycle 98% of the water they use. They also skip the environmentally-harmful bleaching process by opting for cutting-edge Dry Ozone technology, making us fully compliant with International Social and Environmental & Quality Standards.
Plus, they’re committed to ethical practices, fair wages, reasonable hours, and positive working conditions for all our people.
Re/Done upcycles jeans from big brands like Levi’s or Hanes. To date, the brand has upcycled more than 90,000 pairs of Levi’s jeans. Some include handiwork, such as patchwork jeans, but others just have been tailored and trimmed to suit modern fit preferences. If you are looking for a sustainable alterntive, choose their jeans marked as upcycled and reworked.
Organsk is a denim brand that takes circular fashion seriously. Their exclusively eco-certified organic + recycled denim for men and women include a take-back schemes with their membership plans (you can find out more about the plans here).
Their jeans are made with e-FLOW + Atmos technologies, which use 95% less water, 90% fewer chemicals, and 40% less energy than conventional techniques. The best thing is transparency: on each pair of jeans you browse, you can find in-depth transparency on the product.
Who would have thought? Big brands are not often at the forefornt of sustainability. Levi’s is almost synonymous with denim. For decades, it’s been a leading manufacturer for jeans, jackets, and every kind of denim in between. In recent years, the brand has shifted to eco-friendly practices that reduce water consumption, recycle and re-purpose old vintage denim, responsibly source cotton and Tencel Lyocell, and more. What we like best? Their new website Levi’s Second Hand where you can find pre-loved denim and help the planet!