Monday, April 16, 2012

A Greener shade of Jean

Do a quick internet search on the benefits of recycling.

You'll read facts about everything from turning plastic bottles into ball point pens to using cardboard tubes to hold your extension cords. What you will most likely not discover in your internet surf is this simple fact: Buying new consumer products will fill our landfills, deplete our resources, and ruin our earth.

How about a pair of jeans? Consumer Reports (c) lists two pages of helpful advise on their free access site and the top 100 jean choices for men and women with the subscription service. Assuming not everyone who reads this will have the subscription service and that Consumer Reports (c) would not want us sharing that information, let's just say that any choice is fine.

According to the website article titled "How Green Are Your Jeans", "Some 450 million pairs of jeans are sold in the United States each year -- 1.5 pairs for every man, woman, and child."

Here are some facts from the article on what it takes to make a pair of jeans:

"About 1,500 gallons of water are required to produce the 1.5 pounds of cotton used to make a single pair of jeans, not including the water used to dye and finish the fabric."

(on cotton farmer's usage of oil) "about a pound is required to harvest enough cotton for a single pair of jeans."

"Brass is used to fashion the zippers, buttons, and rivets found on jeans, and brass is m
ade from copper and zinc. Extracting and processing these minerals comes with a whole slew of nasty side effects, from acid mine drainage to air pollution laden with toxic metals such as cadmium and lead."

"Water samples taken downstream from textile plants in Tehuacan,
Mexico, a major denim-producing region, have been shown to contain lead, mercury, cadmium, and selenium."

"Cotton yarn is typically "sized" with starch to increase its strength for weaving, bathed in oil-derived paraffin to smooth and lubricate it, and, in some cases, "mercerized" in caustic soda, which gives it a worn look. Starch biodegrades, but when dumped in waterways the microbes that eat it also consume oxygen. Aquatic life depends on that oxygen, and starch is just one of many chemical treatments, including dyes, that deplete it. Caustic soda, a key ingredient in Drano, can kill aquatic life and burn workers."

The article goes on to tout the makers of eco-friendly manufacturing
companies and the reduction of such waste and damage to the environment. While I applaud them for the effort and enjoyed the article immensely, here's a better plan. Buy used jeans. Buy new old stock. Not only can you save money, but you can eliminate 100% of the damage to the environment and waste of resources.

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