Wednesday, 27 July 2022

The weight of your brand new jeans in CO2 revealed by Oxfam

Written by Lisa Rutherford
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Oxfam, global anti-poverty movement, is urging shoppers to buy clothes secondhand rather than brand new as its new research reveals emissions produced manufacturing jeans owned by UK adults is comparable to flying a plane around the globe 2,372 times or a petrol car travelling more than 21 billion miles.

Your brand new jeans have a heavy toll on the environment. Oxfam's research supporting its annual Second Hand September campaign will open your eyes.

The Heavy Carbon Footprint Of Your Brand-new Jeans

Styling your jeans is easy but wearing a new pair of jeans is not a lighthearted choice. As highlighted by the research run by Oxfam in support of its yearly Second Hand September campaign, the making of British adults' new jeans equals flying around the globe 2,372 times!

The institution calculated manufacturing emissions of jeans such as emissions created across the stages of fibre, fabric assembly, cut, sew and finish, sundries and packaging. Each pair of jeans carries a carbon footprint, which includes all stages of its lifecycle, from production through consumer use to disposal. According to the latest Levi’s estimates, the lifecycle CO2e emissions associated with each pair of jeans amounts to 33.4 kg CO2e; of those, 16.2 kg CO2e are estimated by Levi’s to be manufacturing emissions (i.e. created across the stages of fibre, fabric assembly, cut, sew and finish, sundries and packaging).*

Why Buying Secondhand

Secondhand and going thrifting are undoubtedly trendy but this swap can do more than you think. In fact, buying one pair of secondhand jeans a year instead of brand new would bring a reduction in emissions equivalent to travelling 3 billion fewer miles in a petrol car or 365 times less round the world in a plane.

In the UK, on average women own seven pairs of jeans and men six, proving the universal appeal of denim. But each pair carries a carbon footprint. The supporting data analysis shows if all the jeans in the UK were purchased brand new, the carbon footprint is equivalent to the emissions produced by a coal-fired power station in 18 months.

Oxfam's Second Hand September Campaign

Oxfam conducted the study to highlight the impact of fashion consumption on people and the planet ahead of its Second Hand September campaign. The campaign encourages consumers to choose second-hand fashion in September to fight the climate crisis and raise money for the charity’s work helping the world’s poorest communities. It wants to inspire fashion lovers to contribute to the circular economy by shopping second-hand and donating good-quality items to Oxfam shops.

Lorna Fallon, Oxfam Retail Director, said: “The figures are astonishing – who knew making a pair of brand new jeans is like driving 60 miles in terms of global warming? Continuing on this road is just not sustainable for the planet and everyone who lives on it.

But there’s hope and lots of fun to be had! Shopping second-hand is a small and enjoyable choice each of us can make. And together we can have a giant impact on the climate emergency. People who donate to Oxfam shops and buy from our shops both reduce emissions and raise money for Oxfam’s work helping the world’s poorest people access the basics in life like clean water, food, shelter, and the right to make a living. It’s time to practice fun, feel-good shopping with serious intent!"

Oxfam’s sustainable fashion raises crucial funds to help the world’s poorest people, like in East Africa where one person is dying from hunger every 48 seconds caused in large part by severe drought and flooding fuelled by climate change.

With its campaign, Oxfam shows how massive-scale fashion production, climate change, and poverty intertwine and the role you can play to tackle these issues and stop the cycle.

To know more about the campaign and buy second-hand with Oxfam visit the organisation's website and find your local shop.

Make fashion a social action and find inspiring initiatives with Fashions Finest (link to Join us on Instagram and sign up for our Friday newsletter  to stay informed on what matters for a greener and fairer society.

NOTE: Download the infographic on emissions produced by brand new jeans to know more here.