The Impact Denim Has on the Environment

Picture from

Maya Levy

Denim is known as one of the more resource-heavy, environmentally-damaging clothing items people buy. Sustainability is important at Emery, so the question then is: How much of this environmental consciousness is reflected in the clothes worn here at Emery? 

The reason denim is so damaging is because denim is made from cotton, and cotton is usually grown with harmful chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides. Those chemicals require huge amounts of water to produce.  A single pair of jeans might need upwards of 1,800 gallons of water to produce. The global demand for cotton has also led to over-farmed, barren land, and soil erosion, which affects the health of the entire planet. 

“When I shop, I don’t shop in an environmentally conscious way. If I knew more information about what goes into denim then I would have shopped more consciously,” said senior Gyle Israel. “If I like something, I will still buy it even though it wasn’t made in an environmentally friendly way.”

An alternative people can use to help the environment is to recycle denim to slow down the production. This can mean buying vintage denim, sewing your own jeans out of an old pair or some from the thrift store, or buying from sustainable, eco-friendly clothing brands. Popular brands like Urban Outfitters, American Eagle, Hollister and Abercrombie are well-known brands that are not eco-friendly. Able, Reformation, Mott and Bow, E.L.V denim and Etica all are more sustainable and have the same quality denim.