Blue jeans are the one item of clothing that everyone can agree on; no matter where you come from, your religion, or even sexual orientation. People all over the world own several pairs of blue jeans, all designed quite often for different occasions. We distress them, we bejewel them, we roll them, and we rip them. There are different styles available: light blue, dark blue, straight leg to boot leg and everything in between. Some have pockets some don’t. Denim truly is the fabric of our lives and is uses in everything from shirts to shorts, but what do we do with all these jeans when we can no long use them?
One of the most exciting new uses for blue jeans not only can help people save money on their next pair of jeans, but it is also eco-friendly too, and not just because you are recycling. Old jeans can be used to create an eco-friendly insulation for homes, one that Habitat for Humanity and any homeowner who does a little research can use, all without special equipment, masks and worry about breathing in the fumes and toxins from standard forms of home insulation.
Used jeans are made to create Bonded UltraTouch Natural Cotton Fiber insulation. This insulation is chemical free and requires no warning labels. There are no VOC concerns when using UltraTouch, and it is a Class-A Building Product and meets the highest ASTM testing standards for fire and smoke ratings, fungi resistance and corrosiveness. This insulation is made from 85% post-industrial recycled natural fibers making it a high quality sustainable building material.
What is the process for creating insulation from used denim/blue jeans?
First all embellishments are removed from the fabric as well as buttons, and zippers. Next the denim is returned to its natural state, reduced down to cotton fibers. The reprocessed fiber is treated with borate to make it flame retardant and mold and mildew resistant. The fibers are then used to create rolls of insulation that is cut to size and packaged for use in homes and commercial buildings.
Who uses this eco-friendly insulation in their homes?
Habitat for Humanity has used insulation made from recycled jeans in many homes, especially those that it was rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. Approximately 180 homes along the Gulf coast has used insulation made from recycled cotton fiber since it 2006. Habitat for Humanity has also used in approximately 600 other homes.
But you can purchase this environmentally friendly insulation for your home too. It is more expensive that other insulation, but it is eco-friendly both in its process but also in your home. You can eliminate many of the extra tools and protective gear purchases needed when installing other forms of insulation.
How much denim is needed to be recycled in order to create the insulation?
The program began in 2006 and at that time approximately 14,000 pieces of denim were collected to be used in 30 houses. In 2009 approximately 180,00 pieces of denim were collected to be used by donation in approximately 360 homes. This does not include insulation used in homes other than those built by Habitat for Humanity.
How does Ultra Touch get the denim they use to create environmentally friendly insulation?
Clothing collections! Retailers and schools have been involved. The most recent event was at many Gap store locations where for each pair of jeans you donated you received a 30% off coupon to be used on your next purchase.
How can you get involved?
Schools, retailers and other organizations can schedule their own denim drive. Contact Cotton from Blue to Green for more information.
What if I want to use UltraTouch Insulation in my home?
UltraTouch is a U.S. Green Building Council Member and partner with LEED. You can find a distributor of UltraTouch Insulation made with recycled cotton/denim in the United States online and consider it when planning your next home improvement insulation project.
Wonder what other ways your jeans can be recycled? Our Associated Content contributors have lots of great craft and home décor ideas.
Home Decor Crafts: Recycled Jeans Waste Basket
Ten Ways to Recycle Your Old Jeans
Create a Fantastic Retro Blue Jean Backpack for Your Child
Vintage Blue Jeans Head Board
Creating Accent Pillows from Recycled Pants