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While an old fashioned way to give jeans the "worn" look is to, well, wear them, sandblasting jeans speeds up the process so you can buy them that way. Unfortunately, it poses a health hazard to garment workers who are exposed to silica while manually firing sand under high pressure at jeans.
Sandblasting has been in the news recently, with Versace joining Levi's, H&M;, C&A;, and Gucci in banning the process, and according to Science Daily, there is an eco-friendly solution:
Called "surface activation," the process washes down denim after dyeing to give jeans a look comparable to sandblasting. Plus, a study published by Biotechnology Journal claims that not only is it better for the environment, but it is more efficient and cheaper, too. Science Daily reports:
The surface activation technique presents several advantages, including preventing the decease of fabric strength, shortening the duration of the wash-down process and reducing the concentrations of costly chemicals.
Thomas Bechtold at the Research Institute for Textile Chemistry and Textile Physics at the University of Innsbruck concludes that it is one of the few alternatives available to sandblasting jeans. "The surface activation method also allows for more eco-friendly processing of jeans in the garment industry, which is approximately 10% of the total cotton market worldwide," he says in Science Daily.
With the controversial aspects of sandblasting getting media attention, it is likely that more designers will step up to the plate to ban this process, which means that that timing could be right for not only a safe alternative process but a more eco-friendly one too.
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More Sandblasting Denim News
Fashion Heavyweights Levi's, H&M; Take a Stand on Dangerous Practice of Sandblasting Jeans
Versace Bans Sandblasted Jeans, Double Win for Activists and Garment Workers