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Denim Documentary Reveals The Denim Industry’s Dark Side


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…

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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.

>> Continue reading this interview at Ecouterre.

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Posted Aug 06 2014 in Denim News

Levi’s CEO Says “Stop Washing Your Jeans!”


Via ecouterre.com: “Chip Bergh wants you to stop washing your jeans. Speaking at Fortune Brainstorm Green conference in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Tuesday, the Levi Strauss CEO said that while roughly half the water usage happens during jeans production, the other half is consumed at home. Bergh also billed the denim giant as the “ultimate in slow fashion.” “We have a pair of jeans in our archives that are 135 years old, so we are the ultimate in sustainable apparel,” he said. “We build our products to last; if you treat them right, they will last a long, long time—probably longer than most people’s waistlines.”

Levi’s also happens to most sought-after brand in secondhand stores like Goodwill, making it the “No. 1 in hand-me-downs,” Bergh added.

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He also spoke about the “Wellthread” initiative, which is currently being test-driven by Dockers, a subsidiary of Levi’s. “The concept is to try to develop a line of product that is sustainable in every single facet of the word,” Bergh said. “Not just environmentally sustainable but socially sustainable and economically sustainable.””

This text has been reblogged from ecouterre.com. Read the full story and see the video here.

—DT Staff

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Posted May 28 2014 in Denim News

Did Skinny Jeans Almost Ruin America’s Currency System?


Ecouterre published an eye-opening article recently regarding one of our own favorite wardrobe staples: skinny jeans. But the eco-focused website didn’t rave about how versatile they are or how many printed options are available for spring. They accused skinny jeans of nearly wrecking America’s currency system:

In the late 1800s, when a single currency system was established, the bills were sustainably produced from waste fabric from the fashion industry. That’s right: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were printed on fibers processed from unwanted materials, entirely compiled from recycled scraps. But a recent article published over at the Washington Post last month sheds light on how the fashion world’s love of figure-hugging jeans since the ’90’s has wreaked havoc on currency production, tainting the waste scraps with spandex and rendering them useless.

Read on…

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Imagine if your dollar bills suddenly came with a bit of stretch!

—DT Staff

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Posted Feb 10 2014 in Denim News
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