New Campaign Targets Top Denim Companies Over Carbon Emissions, Environmental Impact

July 21, 2017

Nearly 75,000, Leading Environmental Group, Consumer Watchdog Urge Top Jean Companies to Stop Ignoring Climate Pollution 

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In the wake of the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, several top U.S. jean makers have pledged to support climate action. Yet, according to reports from the Carbon Disclosure Project, denim and apparel companies ignore as much as 90% of the climate pollution they generate. Groups and SumOfUs argue that by outsourcing jean production to contractors in developing countries, apparel companies are able to avoid accountability for the carbon emissions created by manufacturing their products.
Filthy Fashion, a newly-launched campaign from in partnership with SumofUs, an international corporate watchdog, targets seven denim brands including Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Express, American Eagle Outfitters, Wrangler, and Lee for ignoring their own impact in regard to the greenhouse gas emissions created by apparel manufacturing.  Both groups are calling on all seven brands to take responsibility for their devastating environmental impacts and immediately begin addressing their greenhouse gas emissions created by denim manufacturing.

“Few people realize that most of the clothing we buy is like putting on a shirt or pants literally made of pollution – pollution that alters our climate and actually kills people.  Fashion is supposed to be pretty, but the dirty secret is that it doesn’t get much uglier than this industry,” said Todd Paglia, Executive Director of “Don’t take my word for it – leading fashion designer Eileen Fisher says, ‘the clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world … second only to oil.’” 

According to one study, the apparel industry generates about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, roughly equal to the climate pollution created by putting 163 million new passenger cars on the road. A study by a leading apparel company concluded that one pair of denim jeans produces 44 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to driving a car almost 48 miles or burning over 21 pounds of coal.
“Tragically, climate pollution will likely have severe impacts on developing countries, like Bangladesh, Vietnam, and China, that produce our clothes,” said Paglia. “This means that the workers and communities that are already being exploited by jean makers seeking cheap labor and lax pollution laws outside of the United States are also being disproportionately impacted by climate pollution.”

“If we want to get serious about stopping climate change, we have to hold corporations accountable for all the pollution they’re responsible for—not just the pollution they’re willing to tell us about,” said Liz McDowell, Campaign Director at SumOfUs. “Pollution from the world’s largest denim companies like Wrangler, Tommy Hilfiger, and Calvin Klein is contributing to the terrible air quality that’s killing 4,400 people every single day in China. And worst yet, these companies won’t tell us how much toxic carbon they’re spewing into the atmosphere.”

The apparel industry is a huge contributor to global climate change. Manufacturing a single pair of denim jeans burns 21 lbs of coal, roughly equal to the greenhouse gas emissions from driving a passenger car nearly 50 miles. Our planet cannot afford to let corporations keep dirty secrets about their pollution practices, which is why we’re demanding that they come clean with this information.

Photo credit: Lu Guang/Greenpeace