Gobar Times
Life Cycle

Casually Caustic


How much thought did you put into that last pair of jeans you bought? No, not about its colour or cut About its impact on the world around you.

For starters, cotton crops require a lot of water - approximately 1,500 gallons of it are needed to grow the cotton used to make just one pair of jean!. Then there's the necessary equipment to harvest the crop, which takes about one pound of oil to operate.

After it has been harvested, the cotton yarn is processed using starch, paraffin (which also comes from oil) and occasionally caustic soda to provide that popular worn look. Starch is biode - gradable, but can be harmful to the earth when dumped in the water supply, since the same microbes that biodegrade also consume oxygen, which in turn may harm aquatic life.

The yarn is then dyed using synthetic indigo, which is also produced from coal or oil. To facilities that produce denim at a low budget, environmental norms are often NOT a high priority. They carelessly dump the dyes into the local water source, like a river or a lake.

If you need an example as to how harmful these dyes can be, look to the case of Tehuacan, Mexico, once a city known for its mineral springs and spas. In the 90's it became a central location for denim production, used by many top North American labels.

People who live in the vicinity of jean factories have to deal with an overload of processing chemicals like potassium permanganate (to get that ‘faded look’ just right) being fed into their water and land.. Like potassium permanganate, stonewashing and fabric softening.

One popular denim trend that never seems to go out of style is the distressed look, which is achieved by stonewashing.

Stonewashing involves washing and rinsing a pair of jeans several times (which of course require water and energy), then sandblasting and scrubbing jeans which release denim and silica dust into the air.

If you spend hours to pick out that perfect pair of jeans, here’s just one more aspect you hadn’t even considered. It certainly makes you think twice about going for that extra one. Do you really need it?


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