How to Turn Blue Jeans Green

How to Turn Blue Jeans Green


Craig Sunter / Flickr


Jeans are a staple in most American closets. Here are some eco-friendly ideas for saving money and the environment when buying, caring for and re-purposing your favorite jeans.

  • Go vintage. Hold off on hitting up the mall and head to nearby thrift stores, vintage, and consignment shops first. These stores are usually well stocked with donated denim. Plus, your jeans will cost significantly less than retail and come with a much smaller carbon footprint – no production required! Also keep thrift stores in mind for donations of your gently used but still wearable old clothes and jeans.
  • Opt for organic. Cotton is the most pesticide-intensive crop out there. Non-organic cotton production is responsible for 11% of global pesticide usage. Just a single pair of jeans made from conventional cotton, amounts to 2/3 pound of fertilizer and pesticides. Fortunately, a lot of well-known brands are using organic cotton and non-toxic dyes in their denim collections. Check out Levi’s, Patagonia, Edun’s and Eileen Fisher for some eco-chic options.
  • Keep it simple. A good rule of thumb when buying jeans is to search for quality over quantity, and classic styles. High-quality basics will last longer, have more versatility and reduce your overall impact.
  • Launder responsibly. Since washing your jeans too often can do a number on the fabric, most manufacturers recommend that you only wash them when you absolutely must. Keep your jeans looking sharp by turning them inside out, washing them in cold water, and try a chemical-free detergent. Want to make all of your loads more eco-friendly? Check out our full list of green laundry tips here.
  • Hang them out to dry. Line drying saves a lot of energy and helps to preserve fabrics by sparing them the heat of the dryer. Check out these expert line drying tips from the folks at Planet Green.
  • Put old denim to good use. Old, worn out jeans make great materials for crafts and projects. Dust off your sewing machine and try your hand at DIY denim wallets, organizers, bulletin boards, potholders, iPad cases – you name it.
  • Let your old denim keep people warm. If you’re not the crafty-type but still want a landfill alternative for your old blue jeans, check out the Cotton From Blue to Green denim drive. Send your well-worn or ill-fitting jeans to the drive’s collection for a second life as denim insulation! Insulation made from the drive’s donations is provided to communities in need for use in building projects. It’s nice to think about your old pair of favorite blues keeping someone else warm, too!

How about you – any bright ideas for repurposing old jeans? We want to know! Share your ideas in our comment section below or on our Facebook page!