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Blue Jeans Go Green Denim Recycling waits for University of New Mexico students and staff to donate used denim in the Student Union Building on Oct. 5.

Blue Jeans Go Green Denim Recycling waits for University of New Mexico students and staff to donate used denim in the Student Union Building on Oct. 5.

UNM students start denim recycling program

The University of New Mexico’s Environment Coalition partnered with the Blue Jeans Go Green program to kick off a denim recycling for insulation campaign on Friday afternoon in the Student Union Building atrium.

The kick off campaign included a jean ribbon cutting ceremony by Emily Wilks, the vice president of the Associated Students of the UNM.

Formed in 2017, UNM’s Environment Coalition consists of seven student organizations committed to organizing projects that aim to promote sustainability and an eco-friendly campus and community, according to a press release addressing their goals and partnership with Blue Jeans Go Green.

“We already put a lot of effort into producing all this cotton, why would we then just throw it away just because we can’t wear it anymore,” said Harper Gamble, the founder of UNM’s Environment Coalition. “The whole thing behind Cotton is trying to show people the value of cotton and repurpose it in other ways.”

Individual students making a commitment toward recycling is the first step to changing the culture on campus and in the community, Gamble said.

The denim is collected in campaign drives and moves through a process. Zippers, embellishments and everything that is not pure denim gets removed. The remaining denim is made into smaller pieces. These smaller pieces are turned back into its natural cotton fiber state and upcycled to a non-toxic denim insulation.

The non-toxic denim insulation gets donated to eligible grant programs or sent out to various Habitat for Humanity affiliates.

According the Blue Jeans Go Green website, there have been 1,000 pieces of denim recycled with over two million diverted from landfills.

The coalition is working towards sustainability workshops and renewable energy campaigns, Gamble said.

“We really want to build that culture around recycling and sustainability on campus,” Gamble said.

The program wants to advocate for UNM and its students to become more environmentally conscious, said Erin Walsh, a UNM junior and member of the coalition.

“We want to encourage students to donate to this campaign — really engaging in this campaign just demonstrates that students here at UNM care about making this campus a green campus,” Walsh said.

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Erin Pang is a campaign organizer with Environment New Mexico and was in attendance to support UNM and sustainability.

Pang said campaigns help bring the community together on important issues and the impact people have on the environment and world.

“It’s really great that that they’re working together and sharing ideas and supporting each other on different campaigns,” Pang said.

Members of the coalition will be on the second floor of the SUB every Friday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. through Nov. 16 with collection bins and ready to answer any questions.

People who donate denim will receive sunglasses or a Rice Krispy treat. You can find denim collection bins across campus including at Zimmerman Library, the SUB and Castetter Hall.

Alyssa Bitsie is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @Albitsie.


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