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Would You Love a Pair of Jeans Travelling All Around the Planet?

Some time ago I saw a nice pair of jeans in a shopping centre, which were not even expensive.

However, there was no label indicating its origin, where they were manufactured, basically I could not see the “made in”. It should be an obligation by law and curious as I am, I decided to start a small investigation, first by asking the shop owner, who had no idea.

Then I pretended to be a member of a consumer association, I listed a whole series of regulations that they have been violating so that they gave me the address of the warehouse where they bought them.

Once home, I called that warehouse, always pretending to be a member a consumer association. They started immediately to tell me the story of the jeans, without any problems, as some journalists have already made an investigation before. First of all, they were made with cotton from Benin. The cotton threads are then dyed in Spain, before being shipped to Taiwan to be woven into several separate pieces (pockets, legs, etc.).

The pieces are then sent to Tunisia to be sewn with Japanese polyester threads. The factory also added buttons, zips, rivets which were made in Japan with Australian metals.

So the jeans would leave Tunisia for a warehouse in France from where they will be sold all over Europe. In short, the jeans travelled about 65,000 kilometers: one and a half the tour of the world.

The production of these jeans is definitely “globalized”: to sell jeans at the lowest possible price, manufacturers look for the lowest cost of production at all levels. The manufacturer multiplies the steps to optimize the overall manufacturing cost. Dyeing is less expensive here, buttons are cheaper there, etc.

This causes several problems: the culture of cotton requires a lot of water for countries that do not have much water, the working conditions of the workers are very bad, transport consumes a lot of oil and releases greenhouse gases.

In the end the jeans are very expensive for the planet, even if they are sold at an attractive final price for the consumers.

There are so many other examples like this. Danish prawns are cleaned in Morocco and then sent back to Denmark to be marketed. Scottish langoustines leave for Thailand to be decorticated by hand in a large multinational company and return to Scotland where they are cooked and then resold.

What do you think about this practice? Wouldn’t it be better to bring production closer to places of sale, reduce energy and hydrocarbon consumption, finally do some good to our planet?

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15 thoughts on “Would You Love a Pair of Jeans Travelling All Around the Planet?

  1. Production and consumption are hot topics especially after the lockdown. We couldn’t order stuff to be produced and shipped fast enough to the States, so a lot of the orders got cancelled due to lack of materials. Producing locally has not been considered for decades. The issue is still unresolved, should we be able to satisfy the growing need of consumerism in the States or should we re-evaluate our lifestyle all together and make smarter choices? If the economy keeps declining the answer is obvious, or should I say when the economy keeps going down we’ll just have to come up with creative ways to solve the problem. Just like in military times… it sounds a bit gruesome… I don’t wish that to anyone. Will the Planet thank us for that? not sure but we could always look on the bright side of life and only count our blessings.

    1. I think that we should adapt our lifestyle to the changed circumstances and accept that we cannot consume as if there is no tomorrow because otherwise there will be no tomorrow. Thank you for commenting Milena!

  2. Wow! 🤯 I knew things like this were common with car makers but am surprised about the jeans. I guess there are many more products made this way than I realized. It’s a terrible way to do things, especially for the environment. I like how you pretended to be part of a consumer group to get info.
    This is a really important post- thanks for writing it.

    1. Thank you Todd! And I found out another product that is produced in Denmark and send to Canada for packaging and then send back to be sold in Europe! It’s crazy, now I always read the label l and try to buy the closest possible.

  3. I think you’ll find that 80% to 90% of consumer goods, small and large, are manufactured in this way. In fact, for many products, key technologies are no longer universally available permitting all manufacturing steps to be conducted in one place. Of course, the business people who planned this out assumed no pandemic or war or natural disaster could screw up their elegant system.

    1. Unfortunately it’s as you say. But in Europe there are more and more people trying to bring back the production entirely in their own countries, especially in the fashion industry. I know that for cars for instance it would be more difficult. Thank you for commenting!

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