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Denims Are Ecologically Expensive. Or are they?

Denims are the fastest growing fashion trend over the years. They have been accepted by every generation as comfortable and modest clothing that is also stylish to carry. Denims have also triggered some protests by the conservative society who disapproved of females wearing jeans. And since then, women wearing jeans has been one of the most talked about topics among Indian feminists.
Indian Denim market was estimated to be Rs 20,205 crore in 2016. It is projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 14.5 per cent. In 2015, India’s denim production was estimated to be 1.2 billion meters.
The cost of a denim is often much more than what it shows on the price tag. For denims tend to be ecologically expensive. To put the ecological cost in perspective, it takes about 2,700 litres of water to produce one t-shirt, while a pair of jeans requires anywhere between 7,500 to 10,000 litres. The amount of water required for production of 1 pair of denims is sufficient to fulfil the drinking water requirement for a person for more than a decade. This is mainly because cotton, which grows mainly in dry parts of the world, requires a high amount of water. A pair of jeans needs a kilo of cotton, costing a hefty price to the environment.
The textile industry is a massive contributor to carbon emissions and covers about 10 per cent of all global emissions. This stat appalled the Surat-based Shreyans Kokra who decided to work towards introducing eco-friendly clothing options in the market, through his startup Canvaloop.


In 2017, Shreyans Kokra launched Canvaloop by creating a proprietary technology that converts agricultural waste from pineapple, banana and hemp into textile grade fibre. In this method, the water requirement is reduced drastically, to 10 litres, mainly because the fabric is created from waste rather than water-intensive raw material.
The raw fibre is then further processed through softening and refining treatments to give the final result similar to the cotton. The processed material can then be converted into thread with the same machine used to convert cotton fibre into weaving material. The obtained fibre is functionally superior and is more durable compared to cotton, as claimed by Kokra.
The revolutionary technology allows not only water conservation, but also requires no chemicals, insecticides or pesticides. The by-product obtained from the production of this kind of fibre, is biodegradable and is used in the paper industry and fertiliser, making the process a zero waste generating one.

Acceptance of the Product by Industry

The company currently produces about 80 tonnes of fibre from agricultural waste in a month, which is woven into clothing by major global brands such as Arvind Textiles, Levis, Target, H&M and others. In India, Canvaloop has a store in Mumbai that offers jeans and clothing by the brand Slow, which is made from the fabric made in such eco-positive manner.

Challenges in Acquiring the Agriculture Waste

Kokra, in his conversation with The Better India, has noted that acquiring agriculture waste from farmers poses a major challenge. This is mainly because it is difficult to convince the farmers to not only refrain from burning the waste, but also invest time in segregating it. Also, there is an added challenge to train the reluctant community members to segregate the waste efficiently.
The move by the startup is a positive step towards making the fashion industry more sustainable. However, the industry will need to follow the footsteps in order to make a real difference to the environment.