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Yes, It Is Possible To Make Denim Ethically

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Photo: Courtesy of AG Jeans.
When we take a step back and look at what really goes into our favourite pairs of jeans, the processes are astonishing. Everything from how they're made (machine, by hand) to where the fabrics are sourced determines how much you're going to spend. And the difference between a £20 pair of jeans and a £200 pair is crazier than you think.

What many don't realise, though, is that what comes out of our jeans is just as crucial as what goes into them. AG, a leader in luxury denim, has done its research and developed jean production techniques that cut down on things like water consumption, waste, and energy, while opting for eco-friendly fibres.

Because yes, denim is cotton and cotton isn't as trustworthy as it seems. Out of more than 80 trillion pieces of clothing produced per year, about 2 trillion are jeans. When you take into account the estimated 2,500 gallons of water (and similar amounts of chemicals and energy) required to produce literally one pair, that's a lot of waste. And where does it go? Take this area in Lesotho, Africa. Or this river in Asia.
Photo: Courtesy of AG Jeans.
Thankfully, certain measures have been taken to clean things up a bit. In 1964, a patent was filed to make ethical denim processing a reality. It states: "Denim fabric suitable for use as apparel is made from 40 to 100% fibers produced from denim waste (pre-consumer and/or post-consumer)." And in 2012, a specialty chemical company in Munich, Switzerland, developed a similarly eco-friendly process called Advanced Denim, which can reduce cotton waste up to 87%.
Starting with water conservation, AG places a high priority on reducing water usage. Its production facilities utilise Ozone Technology, which cuts water consumption by 50% while minimizing the use of chemicals and energy. Next, it's eliminating as much waste as possible. AG cuts its patterns in a way that maximizes fabric yardage and keeps the amount of leftover materials at a minimum. Then, excess scraps are collected for recycling on a weekly basis, totaling approximately 1,300 to 1,400 pounds per week. Those scraps are repurposed as home and car insulation. Who knew you could insulate your home with jeans?

Energy-wise, the brand's heat-saving equipment recycles heat from commercial dryers, reducing laundry-related energy consumption by up to 46%. And many of AG's textiles incorporate sustainable fibers such as Tencel and Modal, which are entirely natural and biodegradable. Damn.
See? Things are changing. Perhaps at a slow-burning pace, sure, but it's that environmental responsibility (or backbone, really) that makes an expensive pair of jeans worth splurging on.
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