Are Jeans bad for the environment and ocean? - Seeker's Thoughts

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Seeker's Thoughts

A blog for the curious and the creative.

Are Jeans bad for the environment and ocean?

Millennials, Gen Z, or gen X who do not love wearing jeans?

But has anyone ever thought that wearing jeans can impact the ocean? or on the environment? It is true. We know the fashion industry has its share to blame, but jeans?



Yes, jeans! they have an impact on the ocean.


How do we know?


A Study was conducted and published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letter at the University of Toronto report, it was found oodles of blue denim fibers in sediment samples from the remote Arctic Ocean in Canada's north, far from human activity.

According to ScientistSam Athey, denim fiber ended up there through long-range transport processes. Whether they're oceanic or atmospheric, it's not confirmed. However, previous research has shown how deep-sea currents transport microfibers vast distances and how they blow the particles from Europe's cities up into the Arctic.

The researchers examined sediment samples from shallow lakes near Toronto, the Huron and Ontario Great Lakes, and the deep sea Arctic.

In 2016 a study found that half of the people living in Canada wear jeans almost every day and the average Canadian washes their jeans after two wears.


Do you love to wear blue denim jeans?

You know, you're just one pair of blue jeans shed a staggering 56,000 microfibers per wash on average.🤔

Scientists found that Arctic water is now loaded with little bits of jeans. Usually, people like to wear jeans because they are far more comfortable  comparatively than other cloth. They also pair well with lots of different outfits. Denim jeans come in tons of different fit and varieties. It's effortless to carry because it's inexpensive too.

Today, Denim jeans have become a trend for men and women. Jeans have been wearing for over a century. And even today, they remain the most popular style of pants in the world.

Why only blue denim jeans? And what technique scientists have used?
Scientists used microscopes and a technique called "Raman Spectroscopy" to identify blue jean fibers by their signature indigo dye.

Blue jean fibers are technically known as "anthropogenically modifies cellulose" (cellulose is the organic compound that makes up plants like cotton). They're called natural textile fibers. They contain these chemical additives. They also pick up chemicals from the environment. , when we are wearing our clothes, or even when they're in the closet.

All small fibers are microfibers, but now all microfibers are denim fibers- that larger class includes synthetic fibers like polyester. These individual fibers are dyed blue with indigo. This chemical makeup gives the fibers a unique signature.

To be sure scientists were characterizing the denim fibers correctly, the scientists ran a separate experiment in the lab by washing three different blue denim types made from 99 to 100% cotton: used jeans, new regular jeans, and new mildly distressed jeans. They captured their washing machines effluent and counted up the fibers.

According to similar studies from the group, scientists found that new pair of jeans shed more fibers than used ones – that makes sense, as old jeans have long free all the loose fibers leftover from the manufacturing process. 

However, strangely scientists didn't find a significant difference between the regular new jeans and mildly distressed new jeans.

Which can be assumed would shed more given the fraying. Scientist Athey says, - "if you have an extremely distressed pair of jeans, they might release a bit more." Previous studies have looked at more synthetic clothes, which probably shed differently than pure cotton.

It's Impact on human and the environment
Environmental scientist Miriam Diamond says – the problem is that wastewater facilities weren't designed to capture all these microfibers. Microfibers catching between 83 and 99% of them, but even letting a few percent through is a veritable torrent, given their volume. There are so many people on the planet—there's too many of us.

What's astonishing is how many of us wear jeans. It's not an indictment of jeans, she says – "I want to be clear that we are not coming down in jeans. It's just a potent example of human Impact."

Once these fibers and micro plastics escape into the environment, they can travel just about anywhere. This year, a team of researchers found the ocean currents are transporting micro plastic into a deep-sea hotspot. And when the current slows, the particles fall out en masse.

Scientists samples a single square meter of seafloor under the Mediterranean sea and found 1.9 million tiny plastic pieces and that sediment sample was just 5 centimeters thick.
Around 2,000 microfibers per dry kilogram of sediment, 20% of which were indigo denim. Scientists are evolving the understanding of how currents are moving material worldwide, with the far north turning into a kind of dumping ground.

Some facts about the unsustainable fashion industry – (Source WEF)
Clothing production has roughly doubled since 2000.
While people bought 60% more garments in 2014 than in 2000, they only kept the clothes for half as long.

In Europe, fashion companies went from an average offering of two collections per year in 2000 to five in 2011.

Some brands offer even more. Zara puts out 24 collections per year, while H&M provides between 12 and 16.

A lot of this clothing ends up in the dump. The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second.

In total, up to 85% of textiles go into landfills each year. That's enough to fill the Sydney harbor annually.

Meanwhile, washing clothes release 500,000 tons of microfibers into the ocean each year — the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles.

Many of those fibers are polyester, a plastic found in an estimated 60% of garments. Producing polyester releases two to three times more carbon emissions than cotton, and polyester does not break down in the ocean.

A 2017 report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimated that 35% of all micro plastics — tiny pieces of plastic that never biodegrade — in the ocean came from the laundering of synthetic textiles like polyester.

Overall, micro plastics are estimated to compose up to 31% of plastic pollution in the ocean.
The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of humanity's carbon emissions.

That's more emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
If the fashion sector continues on its current trajectory, that share of the carbon budget could jump to 26% by 2050, according to a 2017 report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
The fashion industry is also the second-largest consumer of water worldwide.

It takes about 700 gallons of water to produce one cotton shirt. That's enough water for one person to drink at least eight cups per day for three-and-a-half years.

It takes about 2,000 gallons of water to produce a pair of jeans. That's more than enough for one person to drink eight cups per day for ten years.

That's because both the jeans and the shirt are made by a highly water-intensive plant: cotton.
For example, in Uzbekistan, cotton farming used up so much water from the Aral Sea that it dried up after about 50 years. Once one of the world's four largest lakes, the Aral Sea is now little more than desert and a few small ponds.

Fashion causes water-pollution problems, too. Textile dyeing is the world's second-largest polluter of water since the water leftover from the dyeing process is often dumped into ditches, streams, or rivers.

Some apparel companies are starting to buck these trends by joining initiatives to cut back on textile pollution and grow cotton more sustainably. 
In March, the UN launched the Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, coordinating efforts across agencies to make the industry less harmful.

Also read
The 'Dying Glaciers' will be the end of humanity?
Land contributes to 80% of the marine pollution
Need more plants for human survival against the climate change
Humans are literally screwing up the earth- Know How?

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