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Are You Aware of Your Denim’s Footprint?

In order to effect real sustainable progress within the apparel industry, new and creative approaches are important to engage the generation that’s the driving force behind the movement: Gen Z.

As a demographic with high expectations about a company’s obligation to produce more responsibly, Gen Z consumers are increasingly curious about the way their clothing is made and the impact it has on the Earth. According to a recent survey from A.T. Kearney, 57 percent of respondents in this cohort said they wanted goods that are environmentally sustainable.

For denim manufacturer ORTA, this new and creative approach has taken the form of a recently introduced Environmental Impact Calculator within the company’s ORTA Blu mobile app. Using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology the ORTA Blu App calculates the environmental impact throughout each stage of denim production, beginning with raw material extraction and transport to ORTA’s mill, and continuing throughout spinning, dyeing, sizing, weaving, finishing, quality control and packaging.

The proprietary app and its calculator, available for free through the Apple App and Google Play stores, represent the next generation of ORTA’s sustainability platform, ORTA Blu, in which it intends to shape a future that completely rethinks the way denim is designed, made, worn and disposed of.

The tool, which was launched in Kingpins Amsterdam on Oct. 23 and 24, calculates five overall environmental impacts of denim:

  • Global warming potential which causes climate change
  • Eutrophication potential which indicates substances that contribute to oxygen depletion in water and leads to water pollution
  • Land use which causes deforestation
  • Abiotic depletion which is the measure of mineral, metal and fossil fuel resources used to produce a product, and
  • Water use

Consumers can choose the elasticity, weight, composition, shade and finishing of the denim, and they will receive an impact score that determines how its environmental performance stacks up against standard denim.

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“ORTA is excited by the potential of giving consumers transparent and meaningful measures of their choices in denim and the opportunity to share with the world the progress we have made in our practices and processes. We plan to add more features to the app as we commit more deeply to expanding our sustainability processes with new eco-technology, biological engineering and creativity,” said Dr. Sedef Uncu Aki, head of sales and marketing, PD, R&D, planning and operations at ORTA.

“According to McKinsey & Company, nine in 10 Gen Z consumers believe companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues,” Aki noted. “Transparency is a key element for ORTA, and we believe it is our responsibility to share and educate our customers and end users.”

As part of this responsibility, the ORTA Blu app includes a denim and sustainability glossary feature to educate consumers on sustainable processes and environmental measures. This glossary may even go so far as to help contribute to the creation of a common language for sustainability, something McKinsey has determined is necessary in order to scale it.

“As ORTA we aim to create awareness on environmental issues and lifecycle thinking, and using a common language and transparency are crucial to achieve this,” Aki said. “With the Orta Blu app, we created the foundation of this movement and it will help us chart our handprint vision toward using fewer resources while enabling a more abundant and sustainable future.”

Click to learn more about ORTA’s Sustainability platform: ORTA Blu.