Jeans…easy breezy, dress them up, dress them down, durable, comfortable, just right, and just wrong, mostly, for the environment.
Cotton should be a great fabric to wear in you’re interested in both comfort and climate concerns. It is used in nearly half of developed textiles and employs about 7% of the population of developing nations to produce it according the WWF. 713 gallons of water go into making one, just one T-shirt. I don’t know about you, but t-shirts form a large part of my wardrobe. Ever hear of the Aral Sea? It’s mostly gone now but it used to be the world’s fourth largest lake. Soviet Engineers decided to divert it’s waters in order to grow cotton in arid regions. Today the lake has split itself into two and is a 10th of it’s former size.
If you aren’t buying organic cotton, then you’re also supporting a huge pesticide/fertilizer industry. Cotton is the crop that uses the most pesticides, dangerous neurotoxin. Most are known or probable carcinogens. And yes, these residues can be found in the finished product of many cottons. Next to your skin.
Jeans, or denim, have additional climate complications….that lovely shade of indigo, possibly additionally acid washed, bleached, distressed, or otherwise ‘treated”. Indigo dye used is now mainly synthetically produced from petroleum and oil byproducts primarily in China and India. Again huge amounts of water are also used in the dyeing process along with a toxic chemical cocktail, the sludge of which is often simply dumped into local waters.
The dangers to the environment, obvious as they are are only one aspect of this “fast fashion”. It doesn’t address the health of the workers involved in the production of jeans and t-shirts, or their working conditions. Around 450 million pairs of jeans are sold in the U.S. alone. The manufacture of denim and cheap cotton isn’t going to stop but certainly we can influence it’s direction by choosing to buy differently. Yes, your t-shirt and your jeans are gonna cost more by choosing ethically but cost can no longer be the only consideration when you get dressed in the morning.