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Global Studies Service-learning Project

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Molly Y.

on 29 July 2014

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Transcript of Global Studies Service-learning Project

So, after learning how blue jeans are made, let's look at how the production of blue jeans is affecting China's environment
The Blues about Blue Jeans
Hi there!
I am your favorite pair of blue jeans.
Jeans like me often find home in western countries, especially America, where approximately 450 million pairs are sold each year.
Raw white cotton is used as the base for making the denim in blue jeans. Cotton requires lots of pesticides to grow and water for cleaning
Bales of cotton are put into
boiling pots of indigo dye, which is highly toxic and extremely hazardous to workers who often do not wearing protective gear.
Indigo, which is the dye used to make blue jeans, contains toxic metals that are extremely harmful to China's environment.
The health of China's environment is also damaged when factories release pollutants into the air including carbon, mercury, soot, and pesticides.

China's textile industry alone is the producer of 3 billion tons of soot every year
Instead of natural gas or oil, China's textile mills use coal. This is an issue because coal produces double the amount of CO2 per unit of energy than produced by natural gas.

To summarize: raw materials, consumerism, the manufacturing and transportation of textiles are the four areas of the apparel industry that have the heaviest impact on China's environment.
What's the connection?
Clean by Design:
CNN Article:
Greenpeace's Detox Campaign:
Levi's Water Less Campaign
Uniglobe Travel:
So, why is it important for American teenagers to consider the impact of blue jeans on China's environment?
The connection:
The majority of the negative environmental effects from jeans production is the result of the high Western demand for blue jeans.
Because of the pollution of China's rivers from dyes, more than 300 million Chinese don't have access to clean water
A significant portion of China's water has such a bad pollution rating that the water shouldn't be used for anything at all
The CO2 that is emitted from factories is contributing to global warming and unpredictable weather
Created by: Molly Y., Olivia W., and Marcus T., Class of 2016
The design for the blue jeans is selected and the jeans are sewn together to please the consumer. America constitutes 40% of the consumers.
Carbon emissions are damaging to the environment because they are a type of greenhouse gas, which traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere and contributes to global warming.
China is the leading maker of blue jeans, manufacturing over 260 million pairs of jeans a year.

Let's look at how I was made and the effects of the process.
Fashion trends change, fast.
Consumers in the US and elsewhere are driving the demand for all these jeans and other textiles.
So, what can you do to help minimize the effects of denim production on China's environment? Well, to start we're going to need to talk about . . . FASHION!
The big problem is the trend of FAST FASHION in which clothes go out of style really quickly. So, the clothing is made poorly because it's not made to last.
But, here's what you can do to put the BRAKES on fast fashion
1. Buy fewer, higher quality clothes. The less you buy, the more you save (the environment of course).

3. Buy from companies that make organic clothes and/or use better manufacturing processes, such as Levis’ Water Less jeans.
To find out more information:
check out Greenpeace International's campaign called Dirty Laundry, as well as the NRDC Clean By Design project.
4. Write letters to companies and ask them about how green their supply chain is. Almost every big clothing company has a comment page and if you tell them you want to learn about the environmental impact of their clothes, you can create an important kind of pressure on them.

Ultimately, when the world's consumers become educated and start buying fewer, more sustainable clothes, a positive difference in the environment will be made.
Images and Video
Thank you to:
Jennifer Turner, the director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's China Environment Forum for her guidance through this GDS Service Learning project.
And to Katie Lebling for her assistance on this project.
The video below is the process in which Levi's makes their Water Less Jeans.


Georgetown Day School
Service Learning Project
for the
Woodrow Wilson Center's China Environment Forum
You probably don't know much about me and where I come from, so let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I may not have feet, but I leave a big pollution footprint, especially in China.
Not only is indigo dye toxic and acidic, but also blocks sunlight and oxygen to plants and animals.

The rivers that are polluted are supply to over*****************
Indigo should be disposed of properly to avoid damaging nearby water bodies.

Unfortunately, manufacturers often choose not to use expensive waste water treatment equipment in order for prices to remain competitive , and this dye is often dumped into nearby streams.

2. Buy second hand clothes and donate clothes. In other words, recycle clothes.
5. Join a campaign, such as Greenpeace's Detox campaign, which demands companies to discharge dangerous chemicals from their products to reduce the water pollution and to create a healthier environment. They have reached over 4.7 million supporters and counting, which you can help add on to.
I come from China, which is home to approximately 43% of the world's textile mills. I didn't stay in China for too
long though...
In the apparel industry, transporting products by air emits 40 times the amount of CO2 released when transported by sea.
Transportation is also an issue.
Due to the fact that demand is highest in western countries , the transportation of jeans is by air.
Greenpeace China toxic's team discovered that denim factories in Xintang make about 200 million out of the 450 million pairs of blue jeans that are sold in the United States every year.
In Xintang, textile plants frequently pollute the water in order to reduce costs of production, having pipes that release excess dye and denim scraps directly into the Pearl River.
Full transcript