Thursday, April 17, 2008

on the flipside

Over the past few month I've talked about the two pairs of jeans that I bought in October, of 'raw' (=unwashed) denim, that one's not meant to wash for the first six months. Whilst a gimmick in many ways, I thought it was a nice, unintentional way of steering people towards more sustainable laundering practices. Perhaps, but the story has a flipside.

Peter* brought it to my attention that the kids in Sweden (apparently denim is huge over there), and probably elsewhere, aren't washing their jeans for six months to a year, just like me. They then discard them. He also mentioned an eminent fashion historian who does the same. (I am so tempted to name him, or at least burn the books I have by him.) I have no illusions of reaching any of these people through this blog but please, if you know anyone that does this, perhaps educate them about the resource-intensive processes that it takes to turn a cotton field into a pair of jeans. Sure, most probably give the jeans to charity (let's hope) but it's kind of like kerbside recycling; the stuff disappears from our view and we feel a lot better, having 'done the right thing'.

But do we ever look at the amount we are recycling? Could we do with less? Although I drink three or four bottles' worth a day, I buy roughly one bottle of water a month and keep refilling it with filtered water. But that's not the solution, either. Finally, I am about to swap to a 'permanent' metal bottle. The thought of chemicals from the plastic leaching into the water (I don't know enough here...) is somewhat off-putting. Apparently it happens over time. With the jeans, what is it about having washed them that makes them so unattractive to people? Whatever, it's depressing.

*I gave a talk as part of the postgraduate seminar series yesterday (and bombed beautifully); some other excellent comments came up, too. I'll try and post an account of it all over the weekend, but first I have an assignment due at 5pm.

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