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This is a guest post by Guillaume Le Bris. As reviewed in the past articles, cotton, one of the most widely used natural fibers for clothing – about half of the world clothes production-  is water and energy consuming; from harvesting the crop to making some fabric. Farmers from industrialized countries like Australia, Israel or the USA have made significant improvements to the irrigation systems and pushed the technology boundaries to save water, energy and thus reduce the costs in the last decades. From what we’ve seen before, using similar methods and technology with alternative natural fibers such as hemp or flax linen would give much better results. Canadian Hemp industry specialists admit at least 5 years would be needed to fill the technology gap with cotton production. And then blending these natural fibers with organic cotton could give birth to a more sustainable kind of raw denim. But is there a way to know how these crops were grown? Just Label It So we’re talking about a pure, clean product that’s not been touched by the dirt and filth of pesticides booohh…and it saves the good stuff humanity needs – hmm water and energy – for later like… a Denim Eco-label. Let’s talk about something we all enjoy besides raw denim: food! No, no, no; not the ketchup flowing greasy one with peanut oil fried fries on the side and melted analog cheese on top – now you’re hungry – but the healthy one, with a green tag on it you know? Well when it comes down to food, some of us are pretty aware of Eco-labels/organic labels. Actually a growing number of us as mentioned in the first article here. So these tags are usually green, printing mind-shocking mature words like: ‘organic’, ‘ecologic’, ‘biologic’. In a way it even became a…

This is a guest post by Guillaume Le Bris. Sustainability is not just a buzz word, it’s something you have to consider in all your consumption activities.Earlier we discussed the environmental issues of water consumption for growing cotton. We presented one possible solution to the problem; blending natural fibers with organic cotton.As we argue in this article, there are a number of alternatives to cotton in denim production that are less environmentally impacting when it comes to water consumption. And even though some degree of impact cannot be avoided, these alternatives should be taken into consideration by manufacturers. Water consumption revisited Analyzing cotton and its environmental impact in our previous article, we focused on the water consumption issues. That’s a good place to start. However, ideally a full Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) should be performed. The same goes for any alternative natural fiber: Water and energy consumption, from the seed to the actual yarn, and eventually the recycled material should be scrutinized. But the cotton plants’ thirst is not the only thing to blame. Cultivation practices have a huge impact too. And the worst practices are often found in the poorest regions of the world. Cotton requires irrigation in 73% of all production. 15-35% of all the irrigation withdrawals are estimated to be unsustainable. In addition, chemicals used for cotton production accounts for 24% of the global sales of insecticide. The efficiency of water use in irrigation systems and on farms could be increased by up to 50%, and possibly more – in many cases simply by using appropriate practices and technologies. Both mismanaged irrigation and chemical use have lead to desertification as well as heavy pollution in countries such as India and Uzbekistan. Cotton irrigation techniques have improved a lot in efficiency during the past years in industrialized countries such as the USA and Australia. But requiring 5.5 million liters/ha,…

This is a guest post by Guillaume Le Bris. Denimheads have made a significant choice. They are willing to pay a relatively high price for a quality product that will last – one that’s usually made in an artisanal way, and often in western countries from A to Z. This choice often reflects on their entire wardrobe, and even on their consumption patterns in general. In many cases, such conscious consumer behavior has environmental and ethical motives. The “think globally, act locally” mantra seems to be getting into more heads every day. Many favorites among denim enthusiasts make their jeans locally. This is great. But many still use materials made thousands of miles away. Not so great from an environmental perspective. Other brands take it a step further and make their products locally with locally produced materials. That’s even better. But why isn’t locally produced garments made of locally produced material enough? First, we need to take a closer look at the single biggest environment impacting factor; water consumption. Less washing = less environmental impactIn general, the consumer is responsible for 50% of the environmental impact in terms of water consumption.The good news is that with raw denim, to achieve the best and most rewarding look, people are avoiding washing their jeans too much. This naturally results in a considerably lower user impact.But is raw denim clean enough?Some big players would like to tell us it is.Levi’s arguably use less water with their Waterless program. The famous Swedish denim label Nudie uses organic cotton for 100% of their denim production. But they still stick to cotton only.So what’s wrong with cotton? Denim has always been made with cotton, why change? The Dirty White Gold Well, that’s almost like saying that cars have always been using fuel, why should we change?Growing cotton isn’t the most environment-friendly thing ever…

To denim purists, the production origin of their jeans is one of the most important factors. The US, Japan and Italy have long been the most popular nation brands in the clothing business, but what is really behind the notion of the garments’ birthplace? During the past years, Sweden’s Nudie Jeans Co has manifested itself as market leader when it comes to sustainable production. For a year the company has proudly supplied denim lovers all over the world with a complete range of all-organic jeans. With the Nudie Jeans Production Guide, the eco-friendly and caring Scandinavians have taken business transparency to the world of denim. Unparalleled by any other jeans producer, maybe any clothing brand, the guide throughly explains every production aspect the companies conducts. Under each product category suppliers are listed by country. In addition to a little background information of the supplier, you’ll find details about the last audit of the facility and whether any non-compliances of the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) requirements were found. Nudie even check their subcontractors if possible. Have a look at the Production Guide for yourself here.