Levi's estimates it takes 998 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans. This is crazy. The process of making denim is notorious for a massive waste of water, excessive chemical use, and little use of recycled material. But here's how one company is using technology to produce denim with one glass of water.
Jeanologia - One Glass, One Garment
This Spanish company founded in 1993 has been hard at work to find a sustainable solution for denim manufacturing and as a result they are revolutionizing the denim sector and it's very exciting. Jeanologia estimates they saved approximately 8 million cubic meters of water in 2017 alone. Even though this may be the first you are hearing of them, this is actually the machine used in the H&M factory our founder visited back in 2016 and the partner Levi Strauss is using to make their Water<Less Jean program possible.
How does Jeanologia work?
1 | Laser
Traditionally garment workers, usually men, stand in a room with face masks on manually spraying chemicals onto every pair of jeans to make them the color and distressed design the production requires. But with Jeanologia, you can sketch the design out on a computer and watch it transfer directly onto the fabric using a laser. Their technology allows jeans to create dyed, sanded and ripped effects, skipping the manual process of applying toxic chemicals like bleach and potassium permanganate. Not only does this make it healthier and safer for garment workers, but it speeds up production too.
2 | Ozone
From there we look to the sky, where ozone gas is injected into a tumbler which contains the jeans in production. The machine naturally ages the denim, which naturally fades on contact, as if it were being bleached by the sun. The ozone gas is then re-mixed with atmospheric components to become oxygen again, before being released into the air. Reasons you should've paid attention in chemistry class.
3 | Bubbles
Finally we need to soften up the jeans and stop shrinkage so they can be everyone's favorite pair of jeans right off the rack. Jeanologia’s disruptive solution, called e-flow, takes air from the atmosphere and transforms into nanobubbles where water and just the right quantity of chemical products naturally distribute themselves forming the "nanobubble skin". These bubbles become the carriers of the chemical products and transmit them homogeneously onto the jeans.
Where each of these steps would normally require massive water usage for dyeing, washing, distressing, washing, etc, etc, Jeanologia's process takes the normally 20 step process down to 3, and can pump out finished jeans in 90 seconds. With 26 years of hard planet-saving work under their belt they now proudly manufacture more than 35% of the 5,000 million jeans produced every year worldwide. That's 1.75 billion jeans using almost no water and not harming workers. Not of course taking into account that we don't really need that many jeans made per year, but still it's a big win.
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