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West Texas FFA chapter nabs top award in Blue Jeans Go Green denim drive

phytogen denim collecton

Just some of the denim West Texas groups collected as part of PhytoGen’s Blue Jeans Go Green denim drive — photo courtesy PhytoGen

Shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t halt the determination of West Texas students as they collected denim to upcycle as part of PhytoGen’s Blue Jeans Go Green denim drive.

Together, Meadow ISD FFA, Olton FFA and Hutchinson County 4-H kept more than 2,500 pairs of denim from area landfills.

Meadow FFA of Meadow, Texas, took home the grand prize of $2,000 for its efforts, while last year’s winner, Olton FFA, came in second receiving $1,000. Hutchinson County 4-H was awarded third place, earning $500 for the club.

The accomplishment was recognized recently during the virtual 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo.

“Early on, the whole town of Meadow promoted and contributed to our drive, but after everything shut down because of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, our FFA team was still determined to win. They took advantage of school closing to clean out their families’ closets!” said Monica Caswell, Meadow FFA adviser.

Many FFA chapters are struggling to raise funds this year because most fundraising activities, such as concession stands, have been closed. But the teaching moment was not lost, Caswell said.

“We are very appreciative to PhytoGen for sponsoring the drive. We’ve been able to illustrate the sustainability of agriculture with this program. We can create more with cotton,” she said.

Since its inception in 2006, the Blue Jeans Go Green program has collected more than 3.5 million pieces of denim, and more than 6 million square feet of insulation has been upcycled from worn denim. More than 40 Habitat for Humanity affiliates have received denim insulation, and more than 1,750 tons of textile waste have been diverted from landfills.

“Thanks to the participation of local FFA and 4-H chapters, old denim will be recycled and put to good use as home insulation, with a portion being distributed to charitable organizations. It’s rewarding for PhytoGen cottonseed to be involved with an initiative that supports cotton-growing communities and promotes cotton’s sustainability,” said Derek Racca, PhytoGen brand manager.

Racca said most of the denim was collected prior to school closures, but the denim drive was necessarily delayed due to COVID-19 precautions.

PhytoGen contributed this article.