Thoughts on health, happiness and sustainability

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The world’s most sustainable jeans

Anyone who knows me will be aware I’m a big fan of jeans. In fact, I only have one pair of trousers that are not jeans, and I only wear them for events and places that don’t allow jeans (places that I try to avoid). The great thing about jeans is that they are hard-wearing and comfortable, and generally look pretty good. It’s an unbeatable combination in my mind.

Now it would be fair to say that I’m not someone known for my interest in fashion but a few months ago I got super-excited when we found a clothing store called ‘Kiss the Inuit’ in Bonn, Germany. Not only did they stock my favourite ethical brand, Armedangels, but they also had something that was truly remarkable, something that I’m still boring people about several months later.

They had what I think is possibly the best pair of jeans in the entire world.

Freitag’s compostable jeans are something truly special.  Not only are they well-styled and insanely soft, but they are the first clothing product I’ve ever found that actually meets the definition of good design set out in my sustainable design manifesto.


Freitag wanted to create work clothing for their staff that was durable and sustainable, but couldn’t find anything that satisfied their strict criteria, so they decided to create their own, starting with the creation of a new fabric that they imaginatively called F-ABRIC. It is a blend of hemp and flax fibres, which are two of the most sustainable fibers to grow, and they sourced them all in Europe within 2500 kilometers of Freitag’s Swiss factory. The fabric itself is both durable and completely compostable. Critically they’ve thought about the end of life of the product properly.

Flax processing at the flax farmers’ cooperative in Normandy

You might think that ordinary jeans are compostable, but there are always details in the design that prevent them from being composted. For example, many jeans have metal rivets, plastic labels, synthetic stitching and even synthetic fibers blended into the main fabric. These seemingly small details make the difference between a product that can be composted back to nature and a product that has no proper disposal method.

Freitag have solved this very simply by using only compostable fibers for every little detail and removing all of the rivets. The only non-compostable elements are the stainless steel buttons for the fly, which screw on by hand so they can be easily removed and either reused on another garment at a later date or recycled. The only significant downside of these jeans is the price. They are retailed online at for £180. That’s a lot of money for a pair of jeans, and many people simply can’t afford to spend that much.


There is a counterargument to that though, which is that traditionally clothes were extremely expensive, and that people had a small selection of clothes that they took good care of for many years. The price of clothes should not be looked at purely as the upfront cost, but as the cost per wear.  When you look at it this way, a good quality pair of jeans may well be lower than many cheaper clothing items that get worn less often.

In fact, the high price itself encourages us to buy less items of clothing and take better care of them, which is inherently more sustainable. Although I’m sure that Freitag make a good profit on each item, the price of their jeans might actually be closer to what all jeans should cost if manufacturers didn’t exploit people and the planet in production.

Instead of thinking of them as too expensive, perhaps we should look at all other jeans as being too cheap.

Let’s hope these Freitag jeans last a very long time before they go on the garden compost heap.

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