Common Sense Canadian

RiverBlue doc asks: How dirty are your blue jeans?

PostedJuly 8, 2014 by in International

“How dirty are your blue jeans?” That’s the question posed by the forthcoming, Vancouver-produced documentary RiverBlue. The film examines the pollution produced by the blue jean manufacturing and tannery sectors, also exploring¬†the latest technologies and cutting-edge solutions to the problem.

Chemicals used to dye blue jeans are dumped into rivers

Jeans are dyed with harmful chemicals (RiverBlue)

From China’s Pearl River and India’s Ganges to the waterways of Bangladesh and Mexico, host and founder of World Rivers Day, BC’s own Mark Angelo, takes viewers up some of the world’s great rivers, many threatened by the fashion industry.

The Common Sense Canadian’s Damien Gillis sits down with Angelo and RiverBlue producer Roger Williams to discuss their project and the crowdfunder they’re currently running to help them complete the final editing of the film. Featuring a preview of RiverBlue’s stunning visuals, capturing the beauty of these rivers and cultures, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the environmental devastation behind our acid-wash jeans and leather handbags.

The textile and tannery sectors account for 20% of the world’s freshwater pollution, says Angelo – who also founded BCIT’s renowned Rivers Institue – but they don’t get nearly the profile of other big polluters.

We saw this as a chance to profile that issue, but also do it in a way that would take the river conservation message to a much broader audience…because we all buy clothes. We all buy textiles and leather goods, so I think it’s a very timely topic.

About the Author

Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

One Comment


    Great. Looking forward to having my sensibilities assaulted once again. I hadn’t really thought about this aspect of things. I knew cotton was a black hole for pesticides and now I know that the colouring of my favourite pants is responsible for killing rivers as well. Bring it on. I can handle it. I’ll have fun torturing my ‘favourite’ cloths supplier, grilling them about how my pants were made. Thanks Damien for bringing this to my attention.

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