Should you put recycled denim insulation in your new Cozy Home? Nearly 24 billion pounds of clothing end up in landfills each year. To reduce this type of waste, several companies (including the clothing store, the Gap) will donate and recycle old denim to be used as insulation in new homes built after a disaster like an earthquake or a hurricane. There are two companies that manufacture insulation from recycled denim and cotton fibers, Green Jeans Insulation and Bonded Logic. The product, called UltraTouch Natural Cotton Fiber, is made from 85 percent recycled material, making it a green choice for home insulation. There are no VOC concerns, no chemical irritants and no itch when using it. This insulation is a Class-A building material and meets the highest ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) testing standards for fire, smoke, fungi resistance, and corrosiveness, according to Bonded Logic, Inc. The product provides sound insulation as well as thermal performance.
Denim insulation has an R-value around 3.4 to 3.7 per inch – very similar to fiberglass. Installation is essentially the same as with fiberglass insulation but no special equipment or protective clothing is needed to install it. Denim insulation comes in rolls or batts, as well as in a loose form so it can be used as blown insulation. Often, the insulation contains about 10 percent boron as a fire retardant and is covered with a plastic barrier.
There are pros and cons to using denim insulation in a home. The pros are that denim insulation requires less energy to produce than many other forms of insulation and it’s recyclable. According to the Science Insider, denim insulation is light, non-dense and contains no skin or throat irritants, as well as providing superior sound dampening. Denim insulation is resistant to mold, fungus and pests. The insulation is distributed throughout the U.S. in hardware stores and in specialty and green building stores. The cons are that denim is about 15-20 percent more expensive than fiberglass insulation. Also, cotton is not necessarily the most environmentally friendly of crops and jeans manufacturers also use a lot of bleach and water to create their product.
Photo by smith.rickard