Image courtesy of Cotton Inc.

Cotton Inc. is giving old denim a new purpose. The firm has partnered with Recycle by Zappos for Good, the community outreach arm of Zappos.com, to collaborate for its Blue Jeans Go Green recycling program as part of its efforts to make denim more sustainable.

Blue Jeans Go Green reduces textile waste by collecting denim that is at least 90 percent cotton to be recycled and reused, the organization said. The process is free and seamless for consumers that wish to participate. The firm will supply prepaid mailing labels that can be downloaded by logging into an existing Zappos customer account, and packages are subsequently dropped off at a local UPS Store or UPS Authorized Shipping Outlet in the continental U.S.

Rallying behind denim was a natural choice for us because it’s such a universal and iconic fabric. Everyone has a pair of old jeans lying around and recycling a pair of old jeans is a simple way anyone can be involved in promoting sustainability in the fashion industry,” Andrea Samber, director, consumer marketing, strategic alliances at Cotton Inc., told WWD. “Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green program was born from our continued commitment to sustainability, and denim is one of the most common textiles made from cotton.” Samber added, “Providing consumers with prepaid mailing labels makes participating in the denim recycling movement so much more accessible. We are proud to be part of the Recycle program by Zappos for Good, which has assembled so many powerful and sustainable options for helping others. Zappos for Good is the newest addition to our ever-growing roster of fantastic partners working to close the loop on cotton sustainability and give back to communities across the U.S.”

Recycling denim and textiles has had a resurgence of late: Brands such as J.Crew, Target, Madewell, H&M, Levi’s and The North Face have introduced recycling initiatives that provide store credits and coupons to incentivize participation. Blue Jeans Go Green offers a $15 coupon to recycle worn jeans with Wilco Farm Stores that can be used toward a new denim purchase.

Denim, which is made mostly from cotton and known for its harsh impacts on the environment, can be broken down back to its natural fiber state and reused to create new material. Once the fiber is recycled via Blue Jeans Go Green, the denim will become natural cotton fiber insulation; a portion of the denim insulation is contributed toward building efforts in U.S. communities every year, the organized noted. Since the initiative launched, Blue Jeans Go Green has collected over 2.4 million pieces of denim; diverted over 1,230 tons of textile waste from landfills, and created more than 4.8 million square feet of insulation from recycled denim. Brands such as Levi’s and Rag & Bone have partnered with Blue Jeans Go Green in the past to use their retail stores as drop-off centers for denim recycling, but the Cotton Inc. and Zappos partnership has digitized this process, enabling greater impact and wider engagement.

Zappos for Good is an arm of the Zappos.com business that fosters the brand’s community and charitable efforts, the company said, noting that its mission is to “spread happiness and celebrate the good in everyone while encouraging employees to be the good they want to see in the world.” That mission is supported by programs and initiatives, including Give by Zappos for Good, Recycle by Zappos for Good, Pawlidayz and Friends on Us Fridays, among many others, all according to the firm. Steven Bautista, head of charitable giving, Zappos for Good, said that “With Recycle by Zappos for Good, our goal is to help make it easy for any person to give and make a difference. It’s through joining forces with our valued partners that this is possible, and we’re passionate about powering Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green efforts to do more with less through its denim recycling initiatives.”

Samber told WWD, “It’s second nature to recycle plastic and glass, but there is still a great need for education surrounding how people can recycle garments and textiles. Many consumers are not aware of the impact that textile waste has on the environment, and many don’t know that true denim is made from cotton, a natural fiber that can be recycled and given new purpose. How our clothes are made, what they are made of, and how we discard them are all factors that impact the environment.” She continued, “This means the fashion industry must remain extremely committed to sustainability by not only prioritizing the use of natural fibers such as cotton, but also making it easy for consumers to recycle and repurpose clothes.”

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