11 Mar #71 Fatal Conveniences™: Blue Jeans: Microplastics in Your Favorite Pants
Everyone has a favorite pair of blue jeans. Denim jeans are the world’s favorite pants. But did you know that every pair of jeans is full of microplastics? And these miniature toxins are ending up in our waterways?
Welcome to Fatal Conveniences™.
Blue jeans look cool and fit great, but are comfortable pants worth poisoning the ocean?
This one might hurt a bit, guys. Once you’ve heard this segment, you can’t un-know this information. But remember, I want you to be aware of the choices you’re making and how they affect the planet. With that being said, every time you wash your blue jeans, 56,000 microfibers of microplastics and other toxins are released into the water systems.
Why are plastics in your jeans? Well, that’s a long, complicated story that I touch on in this segment. The point is, we’re buying too many toxic jeans, and we’re washing them too frequently. In this segment, I explain the history of denim jeans and why they’re so popular, especially here in America. I also break down some studies on microplastics and what they’re doing to marine life. Look, I know you love your jeans. But there are better options that don’t come with the detriment of our environment. I’m going to give you some options, and what to look for on labels when you go clothes shopping. But you don’t have to throw away your favorite pair of jeans. I actually want you to hold on to them. Just stop buying more, and stop washing them all the time!
Other info in this Fatal Conveniences™ segment:
- The history of denim jeans
- Microplastics in clothes
- Why you shouldn’t wash your jeans after every wear
- What microplastics are doing to marine life
- Skinny jeans
- Indigo dye
- Products to protect your laundry
More information to learn about this subject:
Your Beloved Blue Jeans Are Polluting the Ocean—Big Time | Wired Magazine Article
Microplastics in Jeans are Polluting the Arctic Ocean | Smithsonian Magazine
The Widespread Environmental Footprint of Indigo Denim Microfibers from Blue Jean | Study from Environmental Science & Technology Letters
Darin: It’s that time of the week for another fatal convenience. This is a bite-size segment that addresses some of society’s fatal conveniences and the steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of them. I define fatal conveniences as the things we may be doing because the world we live in makes us believe we have to, tap water, shampoo, sunglasses, food. I dive into the hidden truths behind some of our everyday choices that could not only be harming us but even killing us, so let’s dive in.
Darin: Hey, everybody, welcome to the show. Another installment of Fatal Conveniences. If you don’t want to be inconvenienced by this one, turn off the podcast now. It’s like once you are aware of something, you can’t be unaware. So I’m warning you now, these are probably gonna be affecting your favorite pair of pants, your favorite jeans. This fatal convenience is on microplastics in jeans, the blue jeans, the denim, all of that stuff, but there are good options, there’s good opportunity to change. There are some things you can do, but here we go. So listen, blue jeans are the most worn pair of pants on the planet. Listen, we all love that perfect-fitting pair of jeans and we wash them. What we don’t realize, and I’m going to get into this a little deeper, on average 56,000 microfibres are released with every wash. These are strands of organic or synthetic material along with thousands and thousands and thousands of microplastics, tiny miniscule pieces of plastic that end up– where do they end up? In our rivers, oceans, and environments. So again, this is research done by Rachel Kaufman, a journalist at Smithsonian Magazine. We have that in the show notes, very interesting. The history, obviously, is jeans, we know them today as this indigo-dyed denims with pockets and they’re sturdy and they have the rivets and they’re comfortable. And this was patented basically in 1873 by Jacob Davis, a tailor and Levis Strauss owner of a wholesale fabric house in San Francisco. Cool. I didn’t know that. Rapid improvements in design were made and other manufacturers came into play such as OshKosh B’gosh, remember those? They entered the market in 1895, later, Blue Bell Wrangler in 1904, and Lee Mercantile in 1911. So blue jeans had been around a long time. During the first world war, Lee Union Jeans were standard issue for all people in the war. In the 1920s and ’30s, of course, the cowboys like the actors, the cowboys of like John Wayne, Gary Cooper, they’re all dressed in jeans. It became popular in the ’30s. Vogue prove them as like this western chic. In the 1950s, jeans were associated with this rebel without a cause, the rebellious natures with the white t-shirt, anti-establishment, roll ’em up. It all had this thing, and then it even translated throughout and went to the ’70s and the hippies, protest union, war, the bell-bottoms, and all of these things, and the feminist unions, the women’s lib, gender equality. All had roots in people wearing jeans. It’s very fascinating. 1976, Calvin Klein showed that blue jeans on the runway, the first designer to do this. So Gloria Vanderbilt introduced her hit jeans in 1979. So arguably, jeans are the most popular garment in the world but people are not aware that jeans also are a big source of environmental pollution. This is what I’m saying if you don’t want to know anymore, turn off this podcast and put your head back in the sand, put your fingers in your ears, put your hands over your eyes. If you don’t want to know, then just go back to sleep. But if you want to know and be an advocate for yourself, your health, and the environment and doing something different, then keep on listening. So, some fun facts are, the name denim comes from the name of a sturdy fabric called serge, initially made in Nimes, France. 20,000 tons of indigo are produced annually for dying these jeans, toxic of course. Statistically, every American owns an average of 7 pairs of blue jeans. Wow! I own one and it’s organic cotton, no formaldehyde, so that’s the only one I have left. Approximately 450 million pairs of jeans are sold in the United States every year. Stretched denim is a type of denim that is used as this skinny jeans. And so, you all who like skinny jeans, not to mention, I hate them. I just don’t like that pressure on my everything. It’s made of pure cotton but also has this elastic kind of plasticky, stretchy stuff component called elastane. The orange thread, interesting, that Levis Strauss used the stitching for these jeans and they trademarked that as their distinguishing factor. Of course, now, the convenience is besides from sweatpants, jeans are literally the most comfortable pair of pants you can have usually, and you can wear them both on a horse but show up and be semi-dress up. So they’re kind of this versatile thing, they’re super durable. So you can have that favorite pair of pants forever and we’re gonna get back around it, that’s a good idea. They keep this at one pair of pants, this one pair of jeans that are with you and not needing 7. Jeans are still in fashion. They always has been and it’s easy to clean and iron and not get too wrinkly, etc. So that’s the convenience, of course, but here’s the thing. Jeans are absolutely polluting the environment. Some 63% of the clothes are made from plastic. Did you know that? Some 63% of clothes are made from plastic. Like that polar fleece mostly PET plastic, a mix of cotton and polyester. When you wash all these clothes, millions of microplastics and plastic fibers end up in the water systems. Obviously, they’re all over your body and 63% of that plastic is on your body and then you’re that and you’re sweating with that, etc. causing other hormone-disrupting things. So all this wastewater goes into the oceans, affects the plant life, insect life, sea life, birds, seals, fish, it’s that whole thing. So it just permeates from the micro to the macro in terms of our marine environment. Microplastics of this indigo have been discovered in vast quantities in water samples taken from Canada, from Toronto, all the way to the Arctic. A survery which I have on the show notes conducted by Miriam Diamond at the University of Toronto and her colleagues found that between eighth and a quarter of all microfibers in the sample were blue denim. That is crazy. Here’s her conclusion, “We conclude that the blue jeans, the world’s single most popular garment are an indicator of the widespread burden of the anthropologic pollution by adding significantly to the environmental accumulation of microfibers from temperate climates all the way to the Arctic regions.” Woah! That’s crazy. The research also monitored how many microfibers are lost from a pair of blue jeans during an average wash. The average wash loses 50,000 microfibers off of a pair of blue jeans. That’s crazy, right? That’s just crazy. Microfibers were found in the digestive tract of 65% of the Rainbow smelt, a type of fish, ranging from 0 to 63 fibers per individual collected from the great lakes. A recent study found that 73% of the fish caught in the mid-ocean depths in the North West Atlantic had microplastics in their stomach. Even the animals that live in Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean are still eating microfibers. These microplastics will eventually find their way into our bodies through the food chain. So if you’re eating fish of any kind, guess what you’re accumulating? You’re accumulating microplastics from your blue jeans. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is what’s going on and that is one of the indicators of our massive population and our insanity and how we’re doing things. So we’re all prone to overwashing. So one study in 2016 found that half of the people living in Canada wear blue jeans almost every day and they wash at an average of after two wears of the jeans, they wash them. So think about that, every second time they’re wearing blue jeans, they wash them. They’re losing 50,000 microplastic on average every time. And so these chemicals are affecting again, your body. These chemicals are supposed to be improving durability and all that stuff, but the polyvinylchloride is interacting with your skin, known to cause cancer. And these are also mimicking hormones which are increasing hormone disruption and other hormone signaling pathways. So we need to wean ourselves off these unsustainable jeans. So skinny jeans, sorry ladies and gentlemen, throw them away because they’re full of plastics. The bottom line is don’t buy excessively. Don’t buy all these jeans, all these tight jeans. You don’t need them. There are all these other ways that you can– keep your good jeans that you’ve had forever. They probably fit the best anyway. Buy organic. Buy materials that are organic, that are certified by chemical-free stuff, plastic-free clothing. There are some companies out there doing better processes now. Don’t overwash. Try not to wash your blue jeans in hot water. And of course, don’t use conventional detergents because that’s just accelerating and increasing more hormone-disrupting which I have also talked about in other episodes, but I also say solutions. There are a lot of things you can do. Because of this issue, I have started to create my own organic hemp and organic silk clothing. So, I have some prototypes. I will be wearing those things. They feel incredible. It’s almost like when you start eating really, really healthy vibrant food. It tastes freaking amazing. So when I put on these natural fashion cool looking clothes, they feel so good. And it’s almost like on some level my body is celebrating that. So there are some cool studies also showing that you can filter and using a Lint LUV-R filter that can stop 87% of the microfilters, so we have a study, and some links to that on the show notes. There are some special bags, which we found, it’s called Guppyfriend, and you can put your jeans specifically in there and it will catch all those microfibers. And there’s also machine wash ball called Cora Ball, which also are on the show notes. Again, my thing is, don’t buy these kinds of products anymore. Buy natural fibers, cotton, linens, hemps, silks, all of these things organic, organic, organic, and stop using these things that are literally affecting your life and affecting the environment and affecting the whole food chain. So, unfortunately, our favorite jeans need to be minimized and these denim jeans. Buy organic if you need to. Keep the old ones. Stop buying all the ones with skinny jeans and the stretchy stuff and all of that other thing. We can figure out another way to be fashionable and cool and also supporting our health and the environment. Okay, that was a big one. I understand you’re gonna take some deep breaths, but here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to go back and you’re going to look at your closet going shit, how many jeans do I have. And the next time you put those on, you can’t put back in the box what I just shared with you. It’s your choice. Now that you know the information, what are you gonna do about it? I love you, take care, live happy, live healthy.
Darin: Thanks for tuning in everyone. I hope that left you feeling inspired to take a closer look at the everyday choices you’re making and how they could be impacting your health and even the planet. If you want to learn more about life’s fatal conveniences, head over to fatalconveniences.com. You can sign up for the exclusive access to Fatal Conveniences episodes, news, insights, and more. And all this great stuff gets sent each week straight to your inbox, making it really easy. Now, that’s a convenience without the negative side effects. It only takes a few seconds to join. Just fill in the form and take that amazing step towards making better choices. Remember, small changes can have big impact. So, keep diving my friends, keep diving. And if you haven’t had a chance to check out the interview, I released earlier on the week, here’s what you missed:
[00:15:45] Dr. Ron Ehrlich on How Your Mouth Relates to Your Overall Health –
Dr. Ron: The two most common infections in men, women or child are tooth decay and gum disease, and that affects up to 90% of the population to some degree. Pain is very, very rarely associated with it. Toothaches are what brings people to the dentist, but there’s so much more going on there that people are just not aware of. Literally, the shape and size of your mouth determine the shape and size of your upper airway. And so if you think breathing is important, and I think we can all agree it, is and there is a difference between just breathing and breathing well, then the shape and size of your mouth is important because that also includes sleeping well.
Darin: This episode is produced by my team at Must Amplify, an audio marketing company that specializes in giving a voice to a brand and making sure the right people hear it. If you would like or are thinking about doing a podcast or even would like a strategy session to add your voice to your brand in a powerful way, go to www.mustamplify.com/darin. That’s www.mustamplify.com/darin.