RiverBlue, an upcoming denim documentary featuring Canadian river conservationist Mark Angelo, aims to reveal the denim manufacturing industry’s negative impact on the environment in places like India’s Yumana River and the Citarum River in Indonesia. ”The rivers are like the capillaries of our planet and we can’t live without them,” director David McIlvride told Ecouterre in a recent interview. “The planet would die if we lose rivers to pollution.”
Read an excerpt from the interview below…
EC: What is the fashion industry—and we humans, by extension—doing to the planet?
DM: There’s been a lot of talk about “fast fashion” in blogs and in the popular press and its impact on the environment. With a glut of fashion hitting consumers and low and competitive pricing, it’s not the consumer who is paying for an ever-increasing volume of clothing, but rather the environment.
In the film, Orsola de Castro, an eco-fashion designer from London, England tells us that the fashion industry has to have “transparency, no toxicity, traceability” and that “consumers will demand to know who, where and how our clothes are being made and if the manufacturing of our fashion is having a negative effect on the environment.”
I don’t think we have much of a choice. It’s often mentioned that the next war will not be fought over oil, but rather water. I think that’s a strong possibility as we keep growing in population, while at the same time, losing our integral water resources. The rivers are like the capillaries of our planet and we can’t live without them. The planet would die if we lose rivers to pollution.
I think the consumer does have a say in the health of the rivers of our world, if they knew the story about how fashion has negatively impacted the environment for decades now. Through social media, pressure put on fashion brands to clean up their act and detox, I’m sure we could have a positive effect on the health of the rivers in many places around the world. No one, in my belief, wants to buy from brands that pollute.
EC: What kinds of toxins are we talking about?
DM: Blue jeans are much dirtier than you might ever guess. That ubiquitous distressed denim wash is the result of a several chemical-intensive washes. We spoke on camera with campaigners from Greenpeace who when testing the outflows near the denim towns found five heavy metals (cadmium, chromium, mercury, lead, and copper) in 17 out of 21 water and sediment samples taken from throughout Xintang, a city we filmed in.
Toxic campaigners in China have discovered heavy metals like manganese, which can be associated with brain damage in the rivers. They’ve also found a lot of heavy metals that are neurotoxic, carcinogenic, which disrupt the endocrine system causing cancer of different organs.
Mark, our world paddler, talks about how he feels that clean water is not only a basic human right; it is the world’s most threatened essential resource. Aside from being critical habitats for wildlife, waterways such as rivers and lakes provide vital resources. Many people rely on this water for drinking, for farming, and for food. Yet we saw, during our filming, over and over again that these vital water sources are often abused by industry and treated as if they are private sewers.
The textile industry is chemically intensive. We witnessed a lot of chemicals running through factory floors, eventually ending up in the river. We also documented the spraying of potassium permanganate—without any masks—used to distress jeans, while filming in blue-jean factories.
Article via Ecouterre:Levi Strauss has developed a new way to make jeans using 100 percent recycled water. The denim manufacturer, which applied the first-of-its-kind process to 100,000 pairs of women’s jeans during a test run, says it saved some 12 million liters of agua, or enough to fill nearly five Olympic-size swimming pools. The technique, according to Levi’s, is the result of a new, third-party-verified water-recycling standard designed to ease the stress of garment production on freshwater supplies.
One of the company’s key factories, located in southern China, worked with Levi’s to engineer a system that treats and recovers all the water used in the finishing process for subsequent runs. “This water recycling can happen over and over, significantly reducing the overall amount of water used to make our products,” says Reza Hosseini, manager of environmental site and compliance assessment at Levi’s. “As long as the water meets our standards to deliver the quality you expect from our brands, it can be recycled multiple times.”
Till now, there has been a dearth of standards for water recycling and reuse in the apparel industry, adds Hosseini. “This is a company and industry first,” he says. “And we believe this innovation can help change the way our supplier factories use water.”
“H&M Goes Eco-Friendly – Set to launch in February, H&M will launch its first line of clothing featuring recycled textile fibers from garments collected from their Garment Collecting Initiative. The collection features five classic denim pieces made from 20% recycled cotton.
This continues H&M’s focus on environmentally friendly designs such as their Conscious Collection which will feature Amber Valletta as the face. “The trend is moving more and more towards working with recycled fabrics and as a designer you of course want to work with the latest trends and developments,” says Jon Loman, the concept designer of the line.”
Happy Earth Day! Here at Denim Therapy we have a favorite way of paying homage to the earth: shopping for eco-friendly denim! With brands like Levi, Nudie Jeans Co. and M2F leading the industry in an inspiring switch towards more earth-loving production practices, you don’t have to search for long to find a pair you love. Today we’re zeroing in on REUSE Jeans—a brand that produces environmentally sound skinny jeans (among other wardrobe essentials) in vibrant pop colors like crayon red and jade green. Even better? These jeans are all under $100.
Levi’s has introduced a collection of denim incorporating post-consumer waste, specifically recycled plastic bottles and food trays. Each Levi’s Waste<Lessproduct will include a minimum of 20 percent post-consumer recycled content, or, on average, eight 12 to 20-ounce bottles per jean. The line will include both men and women’s denim styles for the upcoming spring season. This new initiative represents the n ext chapter in the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainable design.
“From the beginning, we have designed our products with purpose and intent. By adding value to waste, we hope to change the way people think about recycling, ultimately incentivizing them to do more of it,” said James Curleigh, global president of the Levi’s brand. “This collection proves that you don’t have to sacrifice quality, comfort or style to give an end a new beginning.”
TORTOISE Jeans has sharpened the focus on sustainability in one of the most environmentally harmful (yet paramount) steps in the process of constructing jeans: the wash. They’ve blown traditional wash methods out of the water (no pun intended), establishing their own wash facility where they develop and implement eco-friendly alternative techniques to achieving their desired finished product.
As for the name?
“The tortoise is a land-dwelling reptile that moves about at a slow and steady pace. They are herbivores that consume extremely low volumes of water. While tortoises can live to be a century old, they have an extremely low ecological impact on the environment throughout their lifetime. These gentle creatures have long been revered as a symbol of wisdom, determination, patience and longevity.”
We picked our favorites from the line at PROJECT Las Vegas. Check them out below.
Hermann #1012: Skinny Straight Jean, American 12oz Selvage PFD fabric, No Water Italian Organic Pigment Application with Natural Resin to retain shape.
Nudie Jeans, Bloomingdales, and Denim Therapy are launching Repair Reuse! Reduce – a unique pop-up tailor shop that lets customers show their worn-and-torn Nudie Jeans some TLC with free repairs and alterations! Come to Bloomingdales SoHo in the Men’s Lower Level, Thursday, September 13 through Sunday, September 16, 2PM ’til 8PM and see what we can do for your Nudies. In addition, customers have the chance to trade in their hard-worn Nudie Jeans (after meeting Nudie’s wear-and-tear requirements), to be recycled and resold with the award-winning Good Environmental Choice label, featured with the wearer’s name. In exchange for donating denim, customers will receive an exclusive Nudie Jeans gift! You can’t pass this up, people. Come on down!
In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re big fans of the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), plus one more–repair! Denim Therapy can help you extend the life of your jeans, but if you’re looking to buy some eco-friendly denim, we’ve also got you covered. Here are six awesome brands doing their best to help the environment:
With colored denim being such a big hit this season, it’s especially cool that M2F created a dye bath that uses 50% less energy and water than traditional methods, while also eliminating commonly used toxic materials. Plus, their Made2Fade Technology Yarn is certified by the Swedish OEKO-TEX lab to be free of any harmful substances.
G-Star RAW Sustainable collection is not only made entirely out of organic cotton, which minimizes the use of harsh-on-Mother-Nature pesticides and other pollutants, G-Star also touts various sustainable operations practices, like reducing energy use and only using transportation companies that meet certain environmental standards.
For spring/summer 2012, Nudie Jeans produced 43% of its garments from organic cotton, with the longer-term goal to amp that number up to 100%. As part of their larger efforts to reduce waste, their Post Recycle Dry program takes old Nudie jeans and makes them into new, limited edition pairs.
Making jeans is a water-intensive process, and a lot of the environmental cost of production comes from water. Often, jeans are washed multiple times before we take ‘em home, but the Levi’s Water<Less Jeans finishing process uses up to 96% less water than usual. 172 million liters of water (and counting!) have been saved so far.
Perhaps you know Edun best in relation to its founders Ali Hewson and Bono, but the ethical clothing lineisn’t simply a celeb pet project. The company focuses on fair wage and labor practices, and uses organic cotton to produce their line.
With jeans made from organic cotton, hemp, recycled wool, and more, Kuyichi prides itself in using eco-friendly and recycled fabrics, including natural dyes. Their full list of sustainable materials used is pretty informative as well, if you pride yourself in knowing the benefits of the alternative fabrics used.
We stopped by the Nudie Jeans Co. showroom recently to preview one of our favorite Swedish denim brands—a brand that embodies both modern Scandinavian culture and classic utilitarian elements in denim and sportswear. Their unisex jeans have made the full transition into 100% organic territory, from denim fabric to pocket linings, buttons, rivets and labeling. It’s all raw material. The iconic orange stitching compliments an array of beautiful Japanese plaids with rich autumn hues for the cold season, all of which is further backed by a line of accessories and the exponentially successful backbone collection.
We love Raleigh Denim, that’s no secret. The eco-friendly, community-enriching brand with limited runs of specially crafted denim have set themselves apart in the market. But aside from being sustainable and aware, their jeans are gorgeous. We had an up-close look at the fall/winter 2012 line at their recent NY press preview. We browsed raw selvedge jeans for men and women with contrast stitching made from Cone Mills White Oak Denim, individually numbered and signed, along with a range of other fabrics in rich autumn hues. Check out our favorite picks below.