Is denim vegan and sustainable? These are questions every ethical consumer asks. Here is how buying denim will impact you, the environment, animals and laborers.
Fabric, materials and textiles are things we consume often. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on denim.
You are going to learn all about denim’s vegan and sustainability status. Additionally, the following info will include denim advantages and disadvantages for your home, whether denim is a natural fiber, biodegradable…or perhaps even destructive!
After learning if denim is vegan and sustainable you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you shop.
This post is all about learning if denim is vegan and sustainable.
Is Denim Vegan And Sustainable?
Durability: pros denim is strong, sturdy, durable, long lasting, holds lustre over time, easy to find second hand
Versatility: pros denim is comfortable, used to make work clothes, jeans, jackets, overalls, casual wear | cons denim does not drape well
Accessibility: pros denim is generally inexpensive, prices will vary
- Common, easy to find
- Increasing in demand and popularity
Fiber source: natural, denim is a natural fiber, made from cotton
Biodegradable: yes, denim is biodegradable, if organic cotton, it can take as little as 1 to 5 months for organic cotton to completely biodegrade
Destruction: low, denim production is relatively sustainable if organic cotton is used, uses less water than non-organic cotton due to better quality soil, grown without harmful chemicals, pesticides or insecticides, does not contain any synthetic chemicals, metals or genetically engineered substances, organic cotton doesn’t destroy ecosystems and is known to improve soil quality
- Sustainable when organic
Kills: none, denim production does not require any animals to be killed
Harms: none, denim production does not require any animals to be used
Indirectly kills or harms: none, no pesticides are used when producing organic cotton, which spares ecosystems and wildlife from exposure to toxic chemicals, buy organic, as pesticides undoubtably harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat
- Harmful to wildlife unless organic
Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible
Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation
Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits
- May involve worker exploitation, laborer issues, human rights concerns
What are denim uses?
Denim material is most often used to make jean clothing, such as pants, jackets and more.
What are some vegan fashion brands that use denim?
Boyish, Brave Gentleman, ELV Denim, MUD Jeans are vegan fashion brands that use denim.
denim is durable.
For every 5 garments produced, the equivalent of 3 end up in a landfill or incinerated each year!
One reason for such wastefulness society’s ever growing desire to acquire. Fast fashion (creating low-priced items at high volumes) is problematic for a number of reasons and promotes the attitude that clothing is nearly disposable.
But another component of such a quick turnaround on clothing is because it’s just not lasting long enough. Snags, stains, warping and shrinkage render items unusable and unacceptable for the donation pile. Avoid such problems by buying better quality, more durable, long lasting materials. Timeless wardrobe favorites that last for years and years are more sustainable and reduce the need for replacements.
Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck full of textiles burns or goes to landfills…
Keep minimalism in mind and buy less, borrow and buy items second hand. Thrift shops offer many inexpensive, unique finds that have already proven to stand the test of time!
denim is sustainable when organic.
Materials from animals are natural fibers and biodegradable unless heavily treated with chemicals. However, they are not at all eco-friendly or sustainable due to the overwhelming strain on natural resources; the water needed, food needed and land usage that must happen for such abundant amounts of animals to live.
With the high number of animals unnaturally bred onto the planet in the name of human utilization, specifically ruminants (cows, sheep, goats, deer, camels, etc.), they emit high volumes of carbon emissions and contaminate air, soil and water with their waste (excrement). This is also toxic to ecosystems and wildlife.
Animal agriculture is not good for the environment, human health and of course, the animals themselves. Thus, animal derived, non-vegan materials are not only cruel and inhumane but environmentally unsustainable.
That’s not to say that all vegan materials are sustainable. There are many vegan yet unsustainable fabrics, materials and textiles. Most of us don’t realize that washing one synthetic garment releases about 2,000 plastic microfibers which then enter the ocean and food chain…or that 30% of rayon and viscose used in fashion comes from endangered and ancient forests. So because a fabric is vegan it does not necessarily mean that it is sustainable, eco-friendly and so on.
Natural fibers like cotton are actually really harmful IF they are not organic. How? Cotton seeds are often GMOs that require pesticides, which are extremely toxic! In fact, up to 16% of the world’s pesticides go to non-organic, GMO cotton farming every year. The chemicals degrade soil and pollute water as well as poison cotton pickers.
Wow! …So it’s time to start using sustainable fabrics, materials and textiles.
Read more about ‘What Makes Fabric Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’
denim is vegan.
Cows, sheep, alpacas, goats, ducks and foxes are animals commonly subject to exploitation for their skins, hair or feathers. In fact, BILLIONS of them die every single year simply in the name of fashion.
Before buying a pair of shoes, a sweater, a purse, check the materials. Common and unfortunately popular animal-derived materials include leather, suede, fur, feathers, mohair and wool -which often come from places like India and China where there can be NO animal welfare laws or enforcement. If the item does come from a more developed area of the world, such as the United States or Europe, that animal was likely a victim of factory farming. In such overcrowded farms they are confined, diseased and must sometimes live their entire lives indoors, never seeing the light of day.
Material from animals may involve slaughtering like leather and fur production, for instance. But in regards to wool or feathers, animals struggle as they are held down and beaten by workers while sheared or as feathers are ripped from their skin. This leaves them bloody and wounded in pain.
Dressing and decorating vegan is easier than ever with this: Vegan Fabrics, Materials and Textiles List
denim is a material that may or may not have labor issues.
Did you know that the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? Whether agriculture involves crops or animals, the labor behind each and every product made from cotton, leather, wool, etc. cannot go unrecognized.
Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers.
Some known problems include workplace health and safety, sweatshops and child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence. Unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death!
Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation.
Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards.
We can improve people’s lives simply by being mindful to buy items that are certified fair trade.
This post was all about whether denim is vegan and sustainable.
Sew Guide: Fabric glossary
Textile School: Textile fabric types
PETA: Vegan Fabrics: Organic Cotton
Cotton, the fabric of our lives, denim
The Spruce: Types of fabric A to Z: What are you wearing?
Ellen MacArthur Foundation, A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future
Is denim sustainable? Long-lasting and always in style: Denim is the key to fighting over-consumption
Grandview Research: Synthetic Leather Market Worth $40.9 Billion By 2027 | CAGR: 4.4%
Adriane MarieHi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.
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