A little bit of chicken fried, cold beer on a Friday night - and a pair of jeans that fit just right.
Chicken and beer are easy, finding that perfect pair of jeans is a different story. But lord knows we try. There are several claims to the true origins of dungarees but the jeans most of us know and love today can be credited to Levi Stauss and Jacob Davis. In 1873 they obtained a patent for work pants reinforced with metal rivets, and in doing so changed the way we wear pants.
Since then, jeans have become a global phenomenon and staple of the fashion world. An entire industry has grown around blue jeans, and they can be found just about anywhere on the planet It is no wonder why they became so popular… They’re comfortable, durable, washable, stylish and symbolize the freedom and opportunity of 19th century America.
It’s hard to say exactly how many pairs are made every year, but most estimates out there put the number between 4 and 6 billion; 450 million of which are sold in the US. That’s a lot of jeans.
Making matters worse… textiles in general are notoriously difficult to recycle, jeans especially. They’re usually made of blended fabrics like cotton and elastane, that are difficult to separate and recycle efficiently. More often than not it's cheaper to make new fabric than it is to recycle used clothing.
Because recycling the material is difficult, finding ways to extend the life of a product is important. Donating used clothes is a convenient way of doing so, but the end results have limitations:
Most donated clothes are sent to poor countries and resold locally; but up to ⅓ of the what's shipped is to local retailers unsellable. Without proper waste management infrastructure, most of it ends up in an open landfill or an ocean.
2) Second life or not, all jeans inevitably reach a point where they cannot be used as pants anymore. So then what?
The better solution is to consider what's going to happen to your jeans after you’re done with them - before you buy them. When buying something that's difficult to break down and recycle (in this case jeans), look for products that are built to last and companies that provide customers with the opportunity to resell or return their products when you’re done using them. A great example of this is Nudie Jeans… Several of their sustainability practices align with a circular economy.
They operate a ReUse Platform; where Nudie Jeans are washed, repaired and sold again.
Nudie's Rebirth line uses at least 70% recycled content in every article of clothing.
Nudie Jeans are designed and created with durability and re-use in mind.
They offer free repairs. Take your jeans to a retail location or order a DIY repair kit free of charge.
They offer a take back program for jeans at their retail locations. Customers that return a used pair of jeans get 20% off their next purchase.
We don’t have to resist our love of jeans by reducing our consumption of them, we just need to be a little more careful about how we do it. Getting your jeans from Nudie is a step in that direction.