When you’re finished with your favorite pair of jeans, what do you do with them? If you’re like most people, you give them to a younger family member, donate them to a local charity, such as Goodwill, sell them on consignment or throw them away. Unfortunately, this last option is one we all choose too often- each year, almost 24 billion pounds (nearly 11 million metric tons) of clothing including jeans end up in landfills, where they can remain, depending on the material used and the conditions in the trash heap, for years. That’s not a very green way to handle your blues.
Luckily, there’s a new use for old jeans that protects our planet and improves living conditions inside your home. It’s known as denim insulation, and it’s been finding its way into some high-profile buildings in recent months. Recycled denim insulation offers these advantages over traditional fiberglass insulation:
Sustainability: It typically contains 80+ percent recycled content. Also, the natural cotton fibers are 100 percent recyclable at the end of the insulation’s usable life.
Eco-friendliness: By using post-industrial material, companies that produce recycled denim insulation divert waste destined for landfills. One company estimates that it diverts 200 tons a month. In addition, the manufacturing process for this insulation requires much less energy than the manufacturing of fiberglass insulation.
Excellent thermal performance: Using recycled denim insulation results in higher HVAC efficiency and lower energy bills.
Better indoor acoustics: Denim insulation’s acoustic ratings are about 30 percent higher than those for traditional insulation, creating a quieter interior for homeowners.
Better indoor air quality: Recycled denim contains no volatile organic compounds or formaldehyde, which off-gas and pollute a home’s indoor air. This insulation creates a three dimensional infrastructure that traps, isolates and controls sound waves. Effectively reduce airborne sound transmission including traffic, airplanes, radios, television, and conversation.
Improved health and safety: Installing recycled denim doesn’t irritate the skin or the respiratory tract. Moreover, the product requires no carcinogenic warning label. Typically, this insulation is treated with an EPA-approved borate solution that provides a Class A fire-resistance rating, which certifies a product as effective against severe exposure to external fires, not readily flammable and not a contributor to the spread of fire. It’s also treated with an EPA-registered fungal inhibitor for additional protection against mold, mildew and pests.
Recycled denim insulation, also known as natural cotton fiber insulation, is a high-performance insulation that’s made from scraps and clippings from the manufacture of denim clothing. This insulation is suitable for residential and commercial use in the same places as fiberglass or mineral wool batts would be used—between open roof rafters, ceiling joists and wall studs.