Updated: Aug 1
The fashion industry is one the most harmful culprits to our environment, for so many reasons. By understanding the issues with fast fashion, you can start making informed decisions on your own. I've already covered microfibersand fabric dyes, so today I want to talk about something we all wear: blue jeans.
Traditional denim blue jeans are made in batches using standard sizing, produced overseas by garment workers, dyed using harsh, polluting chemicals, and use outrageous levels of freshwater. If you combine the cotton usage and dying process, one pair of jeans uses up to 1,800 gallons of water per pair. If you want to know more, trust me, I’ll get there.
This may seem overwhelming, because it is. Fortunately, there are new brands that are stepping up to change the way things were done in the past. And today,I want to highlight a new brand called LASSO that specializes in blue jeansbecause I absolutely fell in love with what they are doing. Not only is sustainability core to their mission, but they make blue jeans custom-made to your body in their Los Angeles facility.
A common misconception is that this fashion industry is too far set in its ways. What's one person going to do about it, anyway? But the answer is a lot. Especially when the industry is completely dependent on consumers. You don't have to sacrifice style for sustainability, especially in 2020.
So, how do you stop your jeans from hurting the planet?
1. Choose Sustainable Fibers
Denim is made of mainly cotton, which comes with a significant water footprint. For every kilogram of cotton, requires 7,660 gallonsof water. While 100% natural fabrics like linen are best for the planet, cotton is nearly unavoidable for the average shopper and used across the board. Opting for organic cotton fabrics uses 91% less water and results insignificantly less emissions that cause climate change. So prioritize organic pieces, like this one. Another way to help is to find denim that is sourced ethically and or uses non-cotton sustainable fibers. For example, LASSO sources their denim from a company that uses certified-safe fabric, and minimizes any pollution from emissions or chemical dyes. Their jeans are also partly made of an endlessly soft eucalyptus-derived fiber that uses way less water than cotton. And their suede stamp is vegan, too, because animals.
2. Stop Buying Your Clothes from Sweatshops
Garment factories worldwide are violating human rights on a daily basis, and if we want to get real about it, we are paying them to do so. They are all over the world, but nearly every pair of jeans on the market comes from China, which has loose labor laws and even looser environmental regulations. For example, the chemicals used for jean dyes are allowed to be dumped directly into waterways, polluting drinking water and the environment before making their way to the ocean. East River in Xingtang, China, the denim production capital of the world, is the scariest example. Start learning where your clothes come from by searching each brand and by reading the tags on the inside of your garments. You might be surprised at how pervasive these countries are when it comes to clothing. Luckily there are amazing options out there that don't conflict with your morals.
3. Consider the Transport
E-commerce is slowly replacing brick and mortar stores, and we need to adapt accordingly. We usually pay for shipping, but the emissions resulting from international transport are rarely factored into that cost. This is why it's important to buy your jeans, or any products really, from a nearby manufacturer. Local is best - choose to shop from brands that manufacture in the US or that let you offset the carbon footprint of your purchase. I was super happy when I saw that LASSO’s jeans are all made in Los Angeles!
4. Consider the Packaging
A huge portion of plastic production is used forsingle use packaging. Something along the lines of 40%! It’s essential that as we shop and ship purchases to our homes, that it’s done with the planet in mind. Choose to support companies that use recycled materials, soy-based inks, and even best, zero plastic. LASSO does all three. Also, their gift cards are plastic-free, which is downright amazing. I hadn't even heard of that before this company. And finally, the single best thing you can do for the planet when you buy your blue jeans.....
5. Choose On-Demand Production
When clothing is made, it's typically overproduced to make sure stores aren't short. Not all of it is sold and it ends up getting disposed of- often irresponsibly. One example is burning. Incinerating clothing is one way high-end brands maintain the "exclusivity" of their pieces. This is why LASSO’S made-to-order jeans are such a gamechanger: since they aren’t made until afterthey’ve been purchased, there’s no such thing as unsold garments and nothing is ever wasted. Also, made-to-order means the perfect fit for everyone. LASSO custom makes each pair using 9 lower body measurements, meaning it's just as unique as you are. The measuring process was quick and easy with their step-by-step guide, and especially exciting knowing I’ll have the best fitting jeans I’ve ever worn because they are made just for me. Gone are the days of acting like humans are all shaped the same. You can learn all about LASSO’s business model and the ways they have committed to sustainability on their website.
Like I said, there are a lot of reasons why the fashion industry is problematic. Most businesses don't disclose how they make their pieces or the impact they have on the environment. Sometimes, I feel like they are avoiding talking about it at all costs. This is all the more reason to support transparent companies that are trying to make a difference for the better. Whether is recycled packaging, partnering with mission-driven charities, or prioritizing ethical production for workers and the planet, it's all better than what we had before.
No one is perfect for the environment, but we don't need to be. We just need people to care a little bit more, try to do a little bit better, and it will all add up to something bigger. Maybe that means starting with your blue jeans.