The Lookbook: Distressed Denim Black Pants


This week I am featuring my black high waisted, distressed denim black pants. A few months ago, I went to Target to buy toothpaste, quickly got distracted and consequently bought these pants. Typical — I know. But, I was really excited about these pants because they’re comfortable and not restricting like most denim. One feature that I really appreciate is that they are partially made of recycled materials. In past editions of the Lookbook, I’ve mentioned the economic effects of mass consumerism. Now, I want to shift focus to the environmental consequences. Consumers are buying and disposing of clothes as frequent as every new fashion trend. So, what happens to the clothes that don’t get sold or the clothing donations that never make it to their intended receivers? Answer: they become environmental pollutants. 

First, let’s consider the resources that go into producing clothes. Given that many clothes sold in the United States are produced and imported internationally, there is a lot of energy and resources consumed in creating fabrics, sewing them together and transporting finished goods to stores. There are a lot of steps that go into turning a ball of cotton into a wearable garment. That is why it is so unfortunate that these garments are discarded after the passing of fashion trends. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that in 2015, of the 16 million tons of textiles that were produced, only 2.5 million tons were recycled. Of the textiles that are not recycled, 3.1 million tons were incinerated and converted into heat and electricity. The other 10.5 million tons ended up in landfills. 

The millions of tons of textile waste that continue to end up in landfills are lost opportunities to recycle and reuse garments. This is horrible for the environment. To avoid discarding used clothes and minimize negative externalities, you can recycle your clothes. I recommend DIY projects to repurpose old t-shirts or pants. Another option is to give clothes to consignment shops in order to earn back extra cash. I am a huge fan of shopping at thrift stores to minimize consumption. Another option to recycle clothes is to participate in give-back programs at retailers or to give to charities such as the American Textile Recycling Service. These are all great options to help minimize the amount of personal waste you produce.