you cut down your daily shower time & always turn the faucet off when you brush your teeth, but chances are you're overlooking one of the best ways you can reduce your water footprint.
a study from Penn State's agriculture department has determined that it takes nearly 2,000 gallons of water to produce one pair of blue jeans--and that's just in terms of cotton & manufacturing. add dye process & machine washing & we're talking an astromonimcal 10,000 gallons of good ole H20 during the garnment's life.
how can you reduce that footprint while still wearing your favorite wardrobe staple? the first step is easy: wash them less. yes, really. and no, they're not as gross as you think.
there's an immediate yuck factor rightly associated to the idea of not washing your clothes, but a research team from the University of Alberta found that a pair of denim pants that were worn for 15 months straight had the same level of bateria as a pair worn for 13 days. most surprisngly, this said bacteria was mostly normal flora found on our skin.
none of us would say no to doing less laundry, but reducing the frequency of washing your denim will also help you shop less too. minimizing their exposure to water & heat means the color & integrity of the denim will last much longer. by keeping items you already own in their prime, your need to purchase more will decrease.
if nixing your clean jean habit sounds daunting, here's some tips:
- spot clean stains. it is our second nature to toss any soiled garnment straight into the hamper, but for a sturdy material like denim it isn't always necessary. even tough stains like grass & spaghetti sauce can be taken care of in the kitchen sink. a drop of dish soap goes a long, long way. remember to always blot (never rub) stains & check out our post about using washing soda for heavy stain removal.
- sunlight & air > freezing. some people will tell you that freezing your denim kills the germs & bacteria, extending the amount of time you can wear them between washing. cold temperatures do not kill the majority of said microorganisms, but rather put them in a dormant state (meaning they'll still be there when warmed back up to room temp). again, the levels of bacteria aren't as bad as they seem. hanging them outside and introducing them to fresh air & light is a good way to keep them smelling & feeling great.
- ...but freezing helps with retaining fit. if you have a pair of jeans that lose their shape after a wear or two, putting them in the freezer will give them that hot-out-the-dryer, curve-hugging effect you crave from a wash.
- use fresh reset fabric refresher. in white tea & pear, blood orange & currant, and blue agave & aloe, VIREN APOTHECARY offers a fresh reset fragrance for every one. it contains an active ingredient derived from soy that neutralizes odor-causing bacteria, which will help your denim (& all soft surfaces) stay fresher longer.
along with reducing washes, there's a few other ways you can reduce your water footprint with regards to your blue jeans:
- go thrifting! buying thrifted denim products instead of purchasing new makes an incredible impact.
- make DIY shorts out of old denim with rips or stains. jeans that are good as new from the thigh up can be repurposed with ease. use a ruler & a pencil to mark above the knee where you'd like them to hit your leg leaving an extra two inches if you prefer the ends (always cut long--you can shorten them later but can't undo!) then use a seam ripper to fray the ends or cuff them for a more polished look.
- if they're too worn for wear, donate them to recycling programs. even with meticulous care, your jeans won't last forever. the popular denim brand Levi's is trying to change the linear life cycle of your denim through repurposing. bring any denim into a Levi's store instead of contributing to the over 24 billion pounds of clothing our country puts in landfills every year. along with their partner I:CO, they will turn it into insulation, cushioning material & new fibers for clothing. but their vision doesn't stop there--they hope to establish a closed loop infrastructure, recycling old Levi's into new ones, by 2020.
remember that when trying to live a green life, perfection isn't always realistic. by incorporating even just one of these steps into your fashion habits, you ARE making an impact by reducing your own.