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J.Crew and Cotton Incorporated Partner to Turn Used Denim into Housing Insulation

Madewell joined the fight to turn recycled denim into affordable home insulation in 2014 and now its parent company, J.Crew, has decided to pitch in.

J.Crew has committed to a buyback program that will allow its customers to turn in their old pairs of jeans for a discount on the latest J.Crew styles. All consumers have to do is contribute a pair of previously owned denim apparel to Blue Jeans Go Green, a denim recycling program run by Cotton Incorporated, at a participating J.Crew or Madewell location.

With every donation comes a $20 discount shoppers can use on brand new denim—and J.Crew’s touting its new Eco Jeans Collection as an option.

The retailer’s Eco Jeans are “specially engineered for a reduced environmental footprint (thanks to water-saving cotton-dyeing technology and a manufacturing process fueled by renewable energy),” J.Crew notes on its site.

As for where the denim ends up after consumers drop off their well-worn pairs for new, sustainable versions, Cotton Incorporated handles that side of the transaction. Blue Jeans Go Green has already diverted more than 1,000 tons of fabric away from landfills with over 2 million separate pieces donated since its inception. J.Crew says an entire home can be insulated with just 2,000 pairs of recycled jeans and Blue Jean Go Green has produced 4 million square feet of insulation to date.

The UltraTouch Denim insulation, is manufactured by Bonded Logic, Inc. and is environmentally safe and itch-free, unlike fiberglass insulation, which benefits workers building the houses. Blue Jeans Go Green says it showcases “extraordinary thermal performance” and 30 percent better sound absorption than fiberglass. It also features a mold and mildew inhibitor to keep the insulation viable for a long time.

That will be good news for the charity’s affiliate programs that receive the denim insulation, particularly Habitat for Humanity, one of Blue Jeans Go Green’s primary partners. Habitat is the largest non-profit house-building charity in the world and attracts a workforce of more than 2 million volunteers every year. So far, it has built or rehabilitated upward of 800,000 homes since 1976.