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Is H&M's New Recycled Denim Collection Sustainable?

H&M just launched a recycled denim collection that's being called its most sustainable denim to date. Here's what you should know.

Written by
Kylie Fuller

It's hard enough to find sustainable and affordable clothing—not to mention denim. Denim has a greater environmental impact than many other textiles because of how water- and energy-intensive it is.

Sustainably-made denim is getting easier to find. Both Walmart and Target have launched their own lines in recent years. Now, H&M is joining in on the fun, too, with what's being called its most sustainable denim collection yet. But is it too good to be true?

Is H&M's Recycled Denim Collection Sustainable?

This month, H&M launched its Recycled Denim Collection. The 10 pieces—which includes jeans, jackets, shirts, a hat, and a tote—are made from 100% recycled fabrics, threads, labels, pocketing, and even recycled metal zippers and trims. In addition to the materials used, the collection also uses a low-impact washing technique that's free from harmful chemicals.

According to a press release, the recycled fabrics include pre-consumer recycled cotton from industrial waste cuttings, and post-consumer recycled cotton from collected garments—some with recycled polyester. Then the accessories (the hat and tote) are made entirely from fabrics that have been "cut and re-used from production rejections." Each product page also shares its environmental impact reductions.

"With a focus on patchwork details and 90s denim washes—vintage light blue, normcore mid-blues, dark vintage blues, vintage blacks, and cool grey—the new collection is about highlighting the possibilities of recycled materials and providing denim lovers around the world even more choices in sustainability," reads the release. "Reusing from both production waste and collected garments is a vital part of one of the biggest ambitions at H&M, which is to move to a circular production system."

Crafting products this way can reduce waste and circumvents the environmental impact of producing new products. H&M's recycled denim collection also makes more sustainable clothing affordable and accessible. The recycled denim jacket can be found for $40, and jeans from the line are $30.

But while the line is a step in the right direction, H&M is notorious for its high production rates, producing billions of garments annually. Overproduction drives a lot of the carbon emissions associated with fast fashion, and one recycled denim line of 10 products will never make up for H&M's detrimental contribution. Hopefully, its success will signal the brand to slow down and focus on making all of its products more sustainable.

That being said, seeing such a massive company make these changes is setting an example for other brands to follow. And—just like with Target and Walmart's lines—if you're looking for sustainable denim at a more affordable price point, these five products are a great place to start.

5 Products from H&M's Recycled Denim Collection

This '90s-inspired denim jacket features a thick cotton-blend denim, metal buttons, and low chest pockets with a flap and button.

Bucket hats are back, and this one is made from 100% recycled cotton. It even comes complete with a sweatband.

Cute and comfortable? Count us in. These five-pocket jeans feature thick cotton denim, a high waist, zip fly with a button, and wide, loose-fitting legs. They come in two shades of blue, as well as black.

If you're looking for a great pair of straight-leg jeans, this pick has a high waist, five pockets, a zip fly with a button, and wide legs.

This recycled denim shirt has it all. Front buttons, open chest pockets, dropped shoulders, and long sleeves. It also has a rounded, raw-edged hem.