Did you know it takes in average about 1500 gallons of water to produce a single pair of denim?
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 “How much water does it take to make a pair of blue jeans?”).
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.
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.
TOP Sustainable Denim Brands
Finding a good sustainable denim brand is not easy. Many brands use greenwashing techniques to confuse us, and navigating through the hundreds of sustainable claims is extremely difficult. Which one is true? Which one of false?
That’s why we have created our own eco-brand directory, called The Ethical Choice. Things are finally simple. The same way you look for a restaurant or a hairdresser on Yelp!, now you can look for a sustainable brand on The Ethical Choice. Just type what you are looking for, or choose a category. Filter by location, by price, by rating, and see the list of brands on the results page. For example, if you are looking for a section of sustainable denim brands, just type “DENIM” in the search bar, and your location.
Our selection of TOP Sustainable Denim 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!