Levis Strauss is a company that has not only stated their sustainability goals, but has pushed to implement them for years now. Levis Strauss won’t stop until 100% of their products are under their new sustainability efforts of reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Creating a New Era of Clothing
Paul Dillinger is the Senior Director of Color, Concept and Design for Dockers of Levi Strauss and wanted to develop a front line initiative for a sustainable designed clothing line. Thus, the Wellthread Dockers line was born. This brand provides the social and economic benefits that we would expect from a clothing line leader, and so much more. The Wellthread line is designed to last for years. Made with long-staple yarn, the pockets and buttonholes reinforced, this jean line is expected to be more durable during washings and recycling efforts.
Major Sustainability Efforts of Reducing Water Usage
Levi Strauss & Co not only hopes to decrease production costs and increase their profits, but also to help the environment. Their challenge was to find an innovative approach to use less water, while still able to produce the same quality jeans and superior look.
Prior to this new initiative, Levi Strauss 501 line of jeans used over 3,000 liters of water, which includes their cotton-growth stages, the manufacturing process, and customers washing their jeans. So they implemented a strict water guideline, which incorporated their laundry and finishing companies in the process.
Instead of washing their jeans in 42 liters of water and drying through many cycles to create that outstanding pair of jeans, they now use a process of dry stones to complete the jeans finished look. This reduces the number of washes down to just one. Now, their total production process uses 96% less water and energy.
Focused On Recycling, Reducing and Reusing
Levi Strauss reduction in the washing process has proved to be effective, energy-efficient, and production efficient. They are working with suppliers and other partners that are focused on their sustainability efforts as well. One of their fabric mill suppliers has a privately owned wastewater treatment plant. Here, they recycle 75% of the water and incorporate it for other production cycles, their landscape irrigation, and restrooms.
Another initiative of Levis is their establishment of a Restricted Substances List. This list identifies chemicals they refuse to use in their products or in their production process. They are committed to providing hazardous free clothing since chemicals have a significant impact on their employees, consumers, and the environment. This chemical reduction includes the dyes used in their manufacturing process. They now use a cold-water pigment dyes and salt free reactive dyes.
Levi Strauss & Co reuse strategies are based on the efficient use of forest products they obtain, such as product packaging, paper, decorative materials, and furniture. They have even partnered with Goodwill Industries for their recycling efforts.
Encouraging Active Employee Engagement
As with any corporation’s sustainability efforts, they can’t do it alone. The employees are a major contributor to making their plan succeed. So, Levi Strauss encourages active employee engagement amongst the company initiatives, as well as contributing to their social responsibilities.
Their employees are a part of Community Involvement Teams. These are company-sponsored groups that have partnered with local charitable organizations. Employees have up to 60 hours a year of paid time off to volunteer. The Levi Strauss Foundation in the US has an employee match program and provides grants to qualifying organizations.
Levis is committed to supporting their employees and their worker rights. They are the first in the apparel industry to have an employee Terms of Engagement, which looks out for their employees as well as their suppliers’ employees. This focuses on labor law and the health of workers.
Creating Alliances for a Better Environment
Levis is one of only six apparel companies working with the National Resources Defense Council, which helps reduce the environmental impact of textile mills. Levis is also partnered with organizations such as Adidas, IKEA, Pesticide Action Network UK, and the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, to form the Better Cotton Initiative. This initiative is focused on sustainable cotton growth worldwide. They hope to reduce chemical and water usage while promoting healthy soil. In the process, this will help increase farmers’ profits.
Educating Their Consumers
Finally, Levis can’t complete their sustainability efforts without the help of their consumers, since 45% of the water usage are due to the consumers washing their clothes at home. They have launched a global initiative to educate consumers on how to take care of their clothes. Levis is educating their consumers with their Get the Facts flash presentation.
Levi Strauss sincerely cares for the environment, their employees, and their consumers. They are setting the benchmark for retailers to attain new sustainability efforts. They are leading their industry with their reduce, reuse, and recycling efforts.
Levi Strauss & Co. Sustainability