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Here's how you can recycle your unwanted denim jeans

Did you know that the average American throws away approximately 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles each year? Textile waste including denim, which is made from biodegradable cotton, takes up nearly 5 percent of all landfill space, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA also estimates that although the textile industry does recycle about 3.8 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste annually, that amount only accounts for 15 percent of all post-consumer textile waste. This leaves 85 percent of that waste in United States landfills, according to the Council for Textile Recycling. Of those textiles, denim jeans are among the most popular in the U.S. American consumers demand an estimated 450 million pieces of denim per year, according to credit rating company JCR-VIS. To create your favorite jeans, reports that it requires about 1,800 gallons of water just to grow enough cotton to produce one pair. It’s part of why keeping denim out of landfills is a big priority for some companies and organizations, including Cotton Incorporated.

The program, founded in 2006, allows people to recycle their old denim clothing of any brand in exchange for savings on new pairs of jeans. The collected denim will then returned to its natural cotton fiber state and upcycled into UltraTouch™ Denim Insulation for housing organizations across the U.S, helping to divert denim from landfills where millions of pounds of textiles are discarded annually. To date, the program has kept over 700 tons of textile waste out of landfills, according to Cotton Incorporated. The UltraTouch™ Denim Insulation is made of 80 percent post-consumer recycled denim, according to Piscadlo. “It’s durable, environmentally friendly, has great sound absorption and is also mildew resistant,” she said. “It’s a really high-quality housing insulation product.”

The Blue Jeans Go Green program has manufactured about 4 million square feet of insulation for distribution to local communities via Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the U.S. Cotton Incorporated’s denim insulation grant program also allows organizations to apply to receive installation for their buildings.


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