In a world where 40$-jeans cost 140$...

In a world where 40$-jeans cost 140$...

By Lars Lützhøft, CEO, Hemp Copenhagen

– That would be in this world. That is, if manufacturers were charged the same price for water as the rest of us. In Denmark water costs about 10$ per 1000 L. Cotton (and organic cotton) need about 5000 liter irrigated water pr. kg fiber (10.000 L in total). A pair of jeans weigh around 500 g. That amounts to a cost price of 25 USD for water alone! When you factor in the margins of the manufacturer, the wholesaler and the retailer this would translate to a retail price of 25$x4 = 100$. For the water cost alone! Add the original 40$ retail price and you get a 140$ corrected retail price...

– Of course, if the water is free or very cheap, there is no need to worry. But is water free, even if producers do not pay for it?

No. Water is a scarce resource in most places, except in river deltas like Giza in Egypt. Water is not free, at least not to society. The cost lies in the drying out of lakes and wells, eventually leaving no water at all.

The most illustrative example is Lake Aral in Russia. Over just a span of 60 years irrigation to support cotton farming has reduced the world’s 4-largest lake to near-nothing.

The Aral Sea, The image left shows the sea in 1989, right in 2014. Source:

A live documentary from BBC touches on the cost of the lake’s shrinkage to local society, that is fishermen and farmers among others.


Image from lake Aral. Click to wiew video.

You do not have the same problem with jeans made of hemp. In fact The original Levi´s jeans, famed for their durability were made of hemp). Hemp requires zero irrigation under normal circumstances. Hemp only needs 2000 L/per kg fiber, less than the natural average rainfall which is 5000 L per m2 (1 m2 is what it takes to grow 1 kg hemp fibre). On top, Hemp doesn´t really need any additives like fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides to be turned into super-durable and super-cool jeans and many luxurious textile products.

Hemp Copenhagen Knit Scarf

Scarf, knit of 100% hemp yarn.

So, taking into account all the real costs of resources (zero irrigation), the retail price of a pair of hemp-jeans can be far closer to 40$ than to 140$ ! And hemp jeans last at least 3 times longer than cotton jeans. – Ask Levi Strauss, up there: Yes, the first many pairs of super durable Levi´s were made of hemp!

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