How Denim Insulation Works

Denim Recycling Programs

The academy that Renzo Piano built (aka the California Academy of Sciences) stays warm with denim insulation, among other green features.
Kim Steele/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Levi Strauss & Co. donated 200,000 pairs of jeans to help insulate the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. That's a lot of blue to make a green building, which is why installing denim insulation is just the beginning. Getting involved in a denim recycling program keeps clothing out of landfills and supplies companies such as Bonded Logic with the raw material they need to make denim insulation even more accessible to the residential and commercial markets.

One notable program is "Cotton. From Blue to Green," launched in 2006 by Cotton Incorporated. The program targets college students, educating them about the renewable attributes of denim and encouraging them to donate their old jeans to the cause. Students can drop their jeans in campus collection boxes or at participating retailers, such as G by GUESS specialty stores or American Eagle Outfitters. The donated denim goes directly to Bonded Logic, which then transforms it into UltraTouch insulation. Through 2010, the program had collected more than 600,000 pairs of jeans, leading to the production of 1,485,000 square feet (138,000 square meters) of denim insulation [source: Cotton. From Blue to Green].


"Cotton. From Blue to Green" also allows consumers to mail in recycled denim. To get involved in this program, pack your old denim in a box, download and print a mailing label from the organization's Web site ( and then ship it to Bonded Logic via the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx or UPS. Make sure your box contains no more than 100 pieces of denim and be sure to bring your wallet to cover the shipping costs.

If you're not too keen on seeing a good pair of jeans shredded into pieces to make insulation, remember tried-and-true options, such as donating to local charities. Levi Strauss & Co. has formed a partnership with Goodwill in the United States to encourage consumers to donate their old jeans instead of tossing them in landfills. To that end, the famed maker of blue jeans and other denim clothing now sews a care tag on every garment it sells. The care tag encourages consumers to wash their jeans in cold water, line dry them when possible and donate them to Goodwill when they're ready to move on to a new pair of 501s.

Either way, donation or insulation, it's easier than ever to go green with your blue.

Related Articles
  • Bonded Logic. "UltraTouch Denim Insulation." (Oct. 27, 2011)
  • Bonded Logic. "UltraTouch Denim Insulation Brochure." (Nov. 14, 2011)
  • Bonded Logic. "UltraTouch CSI 3 Part Spec."2011. (Nov. 14, 2011)
  • California Academy of Sciences. "Exploring the Academy: About the Building: Sustainable Design." (Oct. 27, 2011)
  • Cotton Counts. "The Story of Cotton." (Oct. 27, 2011)
  • Cotton. From Blue to Green. (Oct. 27, 2011)
  • The Home Depot. "16 in. x 48 in. UltraTouch Denim Insulation Multi-Purpose Roll." (Oct. 27, 2011)
  • Levi Strauss & Co. "Recycling and Consumer Care." (Oct. 27, 2011)
  • Nave, C.R. "Insulation R-Value." Department of Physics and Astronomy, Georgia State University. (Nov. 14, 2011)
  • "Noise Reduction Coefficients (NRC) for Common Building Materials." (Nov. 14, 2011)
  • O'Grady, Patrick. "Denim insulation maker enters retail market." Phoenix Business Journal. Sept. 2, 2011. (Oct. 27, 2011)
  • Scott, Luci. "Chandler firm grows; recycles denim material into insulation." The Arizona Republic. Sept. 20, 2011. (Oct. 27, 2011)