An article this week in The New York Times, Changes in the Air Stone-Washed Blue Jeans (Minus the Washed), by Leslie Kaufman highlighted Levi Strauss‘ recent focus on water consumption throughout the life cycle of a pair of jeans. Levi’s has calculated that 919 gallons of water are consumed during this time.
Levi Strauss has taken multiple steps to reduce their footprint in this arena. The first one I would like to discuss is their underwriting and promotion of a non-profit program that teaches farmers the latest irrigation and rainwater-capture techniques to farmers in Brazil, India, Pakistan, and West and Central Africa. In her article, Kaufman notes that this is not totally altruistic; Levi’s is concerned that water-shortages in the future could threaten their very existence. This not-withstanding they have invested $600,000 since 2009 to the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). BCI promotes water conservation, the reduction of pesticide use and prevention of child-labor in the industry. Their focus includes the transformation of “the cotton commodity to bring long-term benefits for the environment, farmers and other people dependent on cotton for their livelihood”. I would like to add that I do not feel it is a bad thing for companies to be concerned about their futures. In my opinion, Levi Strauss is one of the good guys and I am voting for their survival.
Levi Strauss has also introduced their “Care Tag For Our Planet” campaign. Given that 45% of the 919 gallons consumed during the lifetime of a pair of jeans is the result of consumers’ washing their jeans, Levi’s is promoting we wash our jeans less, use cold water when we do wash them, line dry instead of using a dryer, and donate our unwanted jeans to lessen the number of jeans finding their way into our landfills.
I think it’s ironic that a possible remedy to cleaning up our planet is to wash our jeans less. Let me know what you think.
Fairwell until next time…