I Saved 1,800gal of Water by Bleaching my Jeans

Several decades ago, our ancestors would've aspired for this and knowing now that we've reached maximum capacity, producing 400% more clothes than 20 years ago, releasing 52 micro-collections a year, and owning 7 times more clothing than our grandparents' did, they might even be proud. But we know we are not, for we know the reality and what it takes.


It takes wearing the same shirt a maximum of 7 times in a lifetime and then throwing it away without realizing there are people in need or hungry for change. It takes dangerous chemicals to create textiles. It takes someone working an average of 15 hours a day for 7 days a week in the lowest working conditions. It takes 1.5 billion gallons of water a year to keep this up. It takes more than it gives.


A friend once said something that stuck with me: if a piece of clothing costs you less than a meal, it's probably because it cost someone else a meal.


I don't plan on painting the picture of myself as a fashion saint or anything of the sort, but I can say that I do my best to contribute positively to the actual fashion environmental crisis. I only buy essentials I am sure to wear more than the average piece, instead of going shopping for every single occasion and getting trend whims as if I had nothing to wear already at home. I sell and donate my clothing when the time is due. I dream of there being more thrift or vintage shops in my city and wherever they are, I search, find and buy. I also like to upcycle any item I own that might be able to continue further in a different way.


And sure, I don't deserve a medal for bleaching my jeans, but if we all carried around the same mindset of getting creative with what we own instead of buying new, we could achieve change bit by bit. So, if you are interested in the bleaching process and some news, read on.


 

1. Mask

The first step is to mask the division between the to-be-bleached section and the not-to-be-bleached section extremely well. I decided to execute my design on only the right leg of my jeans, so I taped the exact middle as shown, folding the tape in on the zipper flap and also covering those details I wished to keep bleach-free, like the brand patch in the waistband.




2. Plastic bag

Next, to add even more protection to the left leg, which I wished to maintain the exact same way, I folded it and placed a plastic bag around it. I secured the bag with the already existing tape around the middle.




3. Draw

In the following step, I visualized my design. To be completely honest, I was a bit nervous to mess it up, since it was the very first time I did something like this. I could've, of course, made a test on another piece of denim, but what can I say? I was excited and impatient. Since what I wanted to achieve demanded more precision than the half-and-half trend, I needed to draw exactly where I would bleach over beforehand. In my case, I was after a cow pattern, so I roughly drew each shape out with a black pencil, front and back.




4. Bleach

Now, the interesting part of the process had arrived. I equipped a pair of rubber gloves, eye protection, and a sponge to spread out the bleach as I desired. I went to my garage, spread a cut-open trash bag on the floor, and set to start. Also, it is important to note that I used gel bleach, which I think made the process easier and allowed me more control. In the moment, I decided to bleach the back pocket, and let me tell you, I don't regret it a single bit. I had to layer several applications every 10 minutes or so, but I was happy with the end result in less than two hours.




5. Rinse

Once I was content with the tone of my stains, I took the jeans and rinsed them in a sink in the laundry room, scrubbing the leftover pencil marks with soap until the water ran clear.



6. Wash & dry

Lastly, the easiest of all of the steps: wash & machine dry in the smallest capacity.



7. Wear

Aaaaand.... TA-DA! Pretty self-explanatory.



 

All in all, I had so much fun doing this and would totally do it again in the spirit of creativity, sustainability and summer activeness, which is why I am currently looking to start taking in denim (jeans, jackets, shorts, etc) from people to customize with bleach. Yes, anyone's. Anyhow, be sure to keep an eye out on my Instagram for any announcements, because I was even considering giving away a discount to newsletter subscribers. What do you say?


Tiny changes by themselves might not make much of a difference, but if every single one of us made a tiny change, that would add up to a huge one. Past generations might've been part of the problem, and perhaps we are too, but I am hopeful that our generation might also be the solution. We don't take anyone's crap (and that's why I link here my references) and our eyes are wide open.


Don't tolerate any less,


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