Green Jeans: Examining the Environmental Impact of Buying Pre-Owned Denim

Green Jeans: Examining the Environmental Impact of Buying Pre-Owned Denim

In today's fast-paced world of fashion, trends come and go faster than ever before. As a result, our closets are overflowing with clothes we no longer wear, and the fashion industry continues to churn out new garments at an alarming rate. This unsustainable cycle has a profound impact on our environment, from the excessive use of water and energy to the pollution caused by textile production. In this blog post, we will delve into the environmental impact of buying pre-owned denim and present compelling statistics that highlight the benefits of choosing second-hand denim.

The True Cost of New Denim Production

To truly appreciate the impact of choosing pre-owned denim, it's essential to understand the ecological toll exacted by the production of brand-new denim garments:

  1. Water Consumption: The shocking reality is that it takes approximately 1,800 gallons (6,814 liters) of water to produce a single pair of new jeans, from the cultivation of raw cotton to the final product. To put this into perspective, that's more water than an average person drinks in 1,130 days!

  2. Chemical Use: The journey from raw denim to those faded and distressed finishes involves a plethora of chemicals, including synthetic indigo dyes, bleaches, and softeners. These chemicals can pollute the environment.

  3. Energy Consumption: The energy-intensive processes of denim production, which include spinning, weaving, dyeing, and finishing, contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and global energy consumption.

  4. Waste Generation: The fashion industry generates a staggering amount of textile waste each year. New garments are often discarded shortly after purchase, leading to an accumulation of waste that can take decades to decompose in landfills.

  5. Carbon Emissions: The carbon footprint of producing a pair of new jeans can be as high as 80 kilograms of CO2 emissions, equivalent to driving a car for approximately 200 miles.

The Sustainable Choice: Pre-Owned Denim

Now that we've established the environmental challenges associated with new denim production, let's delve into why buying pre-owned denim garments is a smart and sustainable alternative:

  1. Reduced Water Consumption: Purchasing pre-owned denim garments requires no additional water input. By choosing pre-owned denim, you can save thousands of gallons of water compared to buying a brand-new pair of jeans.

  2. Minimized Chemical Use: Pre-owned denim garments have already undergone the dyeing and finishing processes, eliminating the need for additional chemical treatments. This choice reduces the demand for toxic chemicals in the fashion industry.

  3. Lower Energy Consumption: Since pre-owned denim garments skip the energy-intensive production processes, choosing them over new jeans contributes to a significant reduction in energy consumption and carbon emissions.

  4. Waste Reduction: Extending the lifespan of denim garments through second-hand purchases diverts clothing from landfills and lessens the need for new production, ultimately reducing textile waste.

  5. Carbon Emission Reduction: By opting for pre-owned denim, you're preventing the need for new denim production, which is a major contributor to carbon emissions. Your choice helps lower the overall carbon footprint of the fashion industry.

Statistics on Pre-Owned Denim

Numbers don't lie, and when it comes to the environmental impact of pre-owned denim, the statistics are undeniably persuasive:

  1. Lifespan Extension: A mere nine-month extension in the lifespan of every garment could lead to a remarkable 20-30% reduction in carbon, water, and waste footprints per garment, according to a study by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme).

  2. Thrifting Trend: The resale fashion market is witnessing explosive growth. In 2021, The RealReal, a luxury consignment company, reported a remarkable 31% increase in second-hand denim sales, signaling a burgeoning interest in pre-owned fashion.

  3. Economic Benefits: Saving the planet can also mean saving your wallet. ThredUP's 2021 Resale Report revealed that consumers can enjoy savings of up to 90% when opting for pre-owned jeans instead of brand-new ones.

  4. Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction: A report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation underscores the potential for significant greenhouse gas emission reductions by extending the life of clothing. This report suggests that extending the life of clothing by nine months could lead to a 20-30% reduction in carbon emissions.

  5. Water Savings: A study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production highlights the incredible water-saving potential of choosing pre-owned jeans. Reusing denim instead of producing new ones can save over 1,000 liters of water per pair, considering the entire lifecycle of the garment.

The fashion industry's environmental footprint is undeniable, and denim production plays a substantial role in these challenges. However, by embracing pre-owned denim garments, you're not just making a style statement—you're making a responsible choice for the environment.

The statistics presented in this blog post leave no room for doubt: pre-owned denim is the sustainable choice. It conserves water, minimizes chemical usage, reduces energy consumption, curbs waste, and cuts down on carbon emissions. As the thrifting trend continues to gain momentum, and consumers become more environmentally conscious, pre-owned denim is emerging as a powerful and eco-friendly choice.

Denue was created with a mission to keep quality denim in circulation and provide consumers with a sustainable and viable alternative for adding denim to their wardrobe.

Shop our range of pre-owned denim HERE.