Like most garment manufacturing today, denim production has many adverse effects on the environment (see additional reading below). Here are my suggestions on how to shop consciously and recycle your old jeans:
Gently used - I recommend shopping for gently used denim at your local thrift shop, flea market, and/or resell sites. You’ll probably be able to find a great pair of jeans at a reasonable price. By extending the lifecycle of existing garments we can reduce the carbon emissions that comes from producing new clothes. Anyone who has shopped at a thrift store will know there is no shortage of inventory. If you are in Los Angeles, I suggest the Rose Bowl Flea Market to find the couple of vendors selling vintage Levi’s. I suggest resell sites like Depop or The RealReal to find brand name denim and avoid the hassle of rummaging through racks of used denim.
A Current Affair - If you live in the Bay Area, New York, or Los Angeles, A Current Affair is one of my favorite shopping events for vintage and used designer clothing. Expect to pay top dollar but each vendor curates the best selections of vintage Levi’s and designer denim.
Madewell - My friend Angie recommends buying new jeans from Madewell. You can recycle an old pair of jeans at a Madewell store and they will give you a $20 credit towards a new pair. Madewell sends them to Blue Jean Go Green where they are recycled into housing insulation.
Organic cotton - If you’re looking for a new pair of jeans I suggest buying organic denim. Organic denim in made from organic cotton and is produced without the use of pesticides and toxic dyes. Our Katie Pant is made from lightweight organic denim and is handmade locally in downtown Los Angeles. It is a hybrid of a jean and trouser that allows you to wear comfortably in casual or professional settings maximizing your opportunities for multiple wears.
Blue Jeans Go Green - You can send your used denim directly to Blue Jeans Go Green and feel good about upcycling your old jeans.
Levi Strauss & Co - Levi Strauss & Co expanded their recycling program to accept used jeans at any of the physical store locations.
Resell - Use the Depop app to sell your gently used jeans and extend the lifecycle of your unwanted clothes.
Swap - Give your friends a head up when you have unwanted jeans or clothing and ask if anyone is interested. You can always host a clothing swap with your friends to exchange clothes and possibly find some new gems for yourself.
Donate - Donate your unwanted jeans or clothing to local charities, thrift shops, and/or Goodwill.