I recently watched the documentary RiverBlue and wow you guys, there was so much great information. As promised, I wanted to highlight some of the things I took away from the film. I would highly recommend watching it!


Have you ever wondered where all the dye from our clothing ends up during production? Have you wondered what kind of precautions factory workers take when handling these toxic dyes day after day? What about how much water it takes to produce a pair of jeans?

A lot of these things I had heard a little about already but to actually see it on film, really puts it all into perspective.

  • Environmental Impact: The dyes from denim enter waterways all over the world , with little action taken to prevent pollution. It is said that in China you can predict the 'it' color of the season by looking at the water! Isn't that crazy!? To think that the amount of dye is so significant that it can turn entire rivers a different color.
  • Factory Conditions: Factory workers who are constantly exposed to these toxic dyes are given little protection from their harmful effects. Gloves, masks, and protective suits are not given importance. In some of the factories shown in the film, shoes are not even required. Can you imagine? All day long people are not only inhaling fumes but they are in constant contact with the toxins until they go home and do it all again the next day.
  • Water Usage: Xintang, China, is now the jeans capital of the world. 300 million pairs of jeans are produced each year, which accounts for ⅓ of the worlds’ supply. One pair of Levi’s 501 jeans uses 920 gallons of water and 32 kilograms of carbon dioxide. These amounts are respectively equal to running a garden hose for 106 minutes and driving 78 miles. In a year, one large fashion brand uses the equivalent of water in 43,000 Olympic sized swimming pools. The textile industry uses 3.2% of all water available to the human race.

At this point you might be thinking, can we do anything to change this!? And the answer is ABSOLUTELY! 

The following brands are discovering new ways to produce denim and introducing new ideas to the denim world to cut down on toxic chemicals and waste. 

ITEL uses chitosan (exoskeleton of shellfish crushed into a fine powder) to help with the dyeability of their denim as opposed to traditional chemical techniques. ITEL also uses a water recycling technique that cuts down on their water consumption as well as recapturing steam to produce their own power. 

Jeanologia uses oxygen from the air to give denim the stone washed look that would traditionally be accomplished with water and chemicals. 

Other brands working to make ethical denim that weren't mentioned in the film include: Father's Daughter and ABLE.

Quotes from the film:

"Big brands and big retailers have been able to outsource their production and therefore they think they’ve outsourced their responsibility." -Riverblue documentary
"If I’m an environmentalist I can’t say I care only about the rivers of Bangladesh I have to care about the rivers of the world." -Sunita Narain

This was such an incredible film and so well put together. There was so much more information aside from just these facts but I wanted to just highlight the top 3 things I found most surprising! I hope you get a chance to watch it also!