Everlane and Marks and Spencer (M&S) are two examples of retailers working to transform the denim industry. Everlane, a brand built on ethical and transparent pricing and manufacturing processes, is adding denim to its portfolio of high-quality products. The factory has solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems. The factory also boasts technologies that allow the company to mitigate pollution-producing aspects of the denim production process. So much so it’s perfectly safe to drink the water that comes out of the plant.
M&S too is introducing Sustainable Selvedge men’s jeans that use low-impact technology, which allows the retailer to produce denim with five times less water than conventional manufacturing methods as well as lower energy consumption and chemical use. The jeans require 14 liters of water as opposed to the standard 70. Cotton is sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative and fitted with biodegradable leather patches and recycled thread and zip tape.
The production process of denim generates a considerable amount of waste water, which is often released untreated back into the environment, contaminating water sources and soil with chemicals and heavy metals. Poor practices and lack of regulation are having a negative impact on the health of local populations, with communities near denim manufacturing hubs demonstrating significantly higher instances of reproductive and fertility problems, as well as chemical poisoning.