Having a sustainable wardrobe not only means being careful about what you buy, but how much you buy. Investing in a key piece guarantees it will last longer, is less likely to sit untouched in the back of your wardrobe, and most importantly, is helping the environment.
Investing in the Future
We’ve all got a pair; they go with everything, can be worn day or night, dressed up or dressed down… I’m talking about black jeans. The go to, quick fix staple in every wardrobe.
Now I’ve reminded you of the importance of such an item, one that defies all seasons, trend fluxes, and change in personal taste; it’s time to stress the logic of investing in a good pair.
If your favourite pair of black jeans have finally had it (holes in the knees can be passed off as trendy but a hole in the arse cannot) and it’s time to scout around for a pair to replace them; don’t head into your nearest high street store as a quick fix solution. It is a general rule that these jeans, costing anywhere between £20-30, fade, rip, or lose their lease of life within a short period of time. Of course such a staple item has to be quickly replaced; not very sustainable for the environment or indeed for our purses. So it would make sense then, to go and splash out, truly ‘treat yo’self’, on a pair that are decent quality, are going to last, and even better – are ethically made and sourced?
If you’re looking for a brand known for its worldwide quality and reliability, you could go down the Levi’s route. After doing research into the Lifecycle of Levi jeans, the company found the amount of water used in the jean making process was simply not sustainable. Most of the water wastage was found to be in the cotton making process; and with 95% of their products being made from cotton (a natural and biodegradable resource), this amounted to a lot. Their use of innovative finishing techniques under the Water<Less campaign means that they saved 1 billion litres of water in 2011.
In a world facing increasing resource constraints, and where people do not have access to clean running water, their commitment is one that is viable and looks to the future. The products in their Water<Less collection are also made out of 20% post-consumer waste; specifically plastic bottles. Purchasing from a brand like Levi’s, who are a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, guarantees that something is being done to reduce the impact of cotton production on the environment and on the lives of those who farm it. Although their products are on the pricey side, (you’re looking at around £60+) you know you are investing in the future and in a decent brand of jeans that has stayed on trend since their creation in 1853!
MUD jeans, a Dutch company, is similarly an eco-conscious and reliable brand. Like Levi’s they recognise the huge wastage of water that goes into the production of cotton jeans. Their commitment to the Better Cotton Initiative means 80% of their cotton gets rain fed rather than irrigated. Furthermore they’re committed to recycling cotton, even encouraging customers to send back their jeans once they’re finished with them, offering 10% off their next purchase in return! Surely that’s a win-win situation?
High Street Brands
Finding a good pair of jeans doesn’t always mean breaking the bank, however. More and more highstreet and online stores are offering eco-conscious ranges at fairly reasonable prices. It is becoming easier, with just a bit of research and thought behind your buys, to be sustainable.
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that although these companies are taking steps towards being more conscious by offering sustainable lines (which is great!) they are not sustainable businesses and often do not offer the best practises in terms of ethics. However, sustainable jeans are still quite hard to come by, so any conscious step is a good one!
Monki, for example, uses 100% organic cotton to make their jeans, meaning less harmful chemicals and less water is used in production. One of the brands listed on Asos’s ‘Eco-Edit’ section, their jeans are certainly affordable, ranging from £30-£50 and the variety in styles means you’re sure to find the right pair for you. Sister brand H&M also have a ‘conscious collection’, with jeans priced similarly between £20-£30.
What Else Can You Do?
You mustn’t forget that there are alternatives to going out and buying a new pair of jeans- even if they are good for the environment. Try re-dying your black jeans if they’ve faded, to give them a new lease of life (see our blog post on re-dying jeans), or think about patching the holes in your jeans with a contrasting/funky colour to upcycle them. There’s also the option of wandering round vintage shops, where you can buy a second-hand pair of Levi’s for around £30!