Fast fashion, the planet and ripped jeans. Oh my.


Environmental Fridays

Kelly Walker

I ripped my favorite pair of jeans today. 

This is the first time I can say that I’ve ripped a pair of jeans purely from wearing them so often that the fabric wore down and ripped. I’ve snagged a pant leg on a tin roof before (long story) and ripped a knee from falling off a bike like everyone else, but never have I been able to say that I ripped a pair of jeans from loving them.  This is probably because I always refused to buy expensive jeans (why would I spend a bunch of money on something that’s temporary?).  Instead, I would buy from the discounted section of department stores, knowing that it wouldn’t be a big deal if they don’t fit perfectly because I can just buy another pair later.  I can have a pair for every style and every mood.  I would donate or throw jeans away long before they had a chance to rip.  But this time, I did it. 

I have to be honest, it was a sad morning after I shimmied into my beloved jeans and turned around to find a hole just underneath my right butt cheek where I had noticed before that the material was thinning (not the most conspicuous location, I might add).  After frantically Googling how to repair a hole in such an inconvenient place, I realized that this is actually quite the accomplishment. 

I bought these jeans three years ago with the intention of spending a solid amount of money on quality-made jeans that actually fit me well.  My goal was to only have two pairs of jeans until they fall apart.  Then, and only then, would I replace them with new jeans.  I ended up buying two more pairs of jeans on top of this goal because I loved them so much and I wanted a couple of different styles, but this just goes to show that we’re all human!  So here we are, three years later.  The one pair that I have worn the most by far has worn a hole in the butt purely from being loved. 

The world has produced and thrown away plenty of pairs of jeans.  I alone in my little life have thrown away far too many.  I grew up in a world that values quantity over quality.  I used to want discounted clothing in every style and color. I would have never thought about purchasing quality materials once and making it last.  Then I learned about fast fashion. 

The clothing industry is polluting the planet in so many ways, from the toxic chemicals leeched from the dyes that make your 5 dollar t-shirt bright red to the plastic polyester fibers weaved into the clothing that we throw in the washing machine where it eventually makes its way to the ocean, further contributing to the plastic crisis. 

I set a small goal three years ago which seems like such a small impact, but if everyone thought this way, we could significantly slow down the industry.  I didn’t even fully complete my little goal, but that doesn’t discourage me.  I will repair these jeans, continue to wear them, and refuse to purchase new jeans until all of my jeans are unwearable.  I encourage you to think about what goals you might want to set for yourself.  Every little bit helps.