When Blue Jeans Went Green

Olesen’s “When Blue Jeans Went Green” highlights the complicated issues at the heart of clothing manufacturing and its relationship to the environment. As people buy and go through more and more clothes, the impact this has on our sustainable resources of cotton and our ability to manufacture clothing has become greater. One thing in particular that resonated with me was the sheer futility of these denim drives that are meant to recycle jeans; they are just a drop in the bucket compared to the sheer number of jeans that are manufactured every year. To that end, the fact remains that we need to find ways to change our lifestyles in order to help reduce our demands on the environment and find sustainable clothing consumption.

At the same time, I feel that the attitude of the article is far more optimistic than is feasible. The final section in particular, about the “sense of higher moral purpose that runs so deep in American culture,” rings somewhat false to me. While there is certainly a greater movement in some sections of American culture to be more environmentally-conscious, the fact that these recycling movements do not make a dent in overall jeans consumption speaks to the overall American love of conspicuous consumerism. Given Americans’ innate love of materialism, I think it will be much harder to get enough people to give up the tradition of buying new jeans in favor of getting recycled jeans, as it is much easier to just run down to the store and buy a fresh pair than cultivate a thorough interest in maintaining a consistent sense of environmental concern.blue_jeans1

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