Nov 24 2010
Here at Levi Strauss & Co. we’re focused on building sustainability into everything we do. The goal? Have our profitable growth help restore the environment.
We know that we can’t tackle this challenge alone – so we’re talking with a lot of different people about what we can do together. Among them, students.
In fact, we recently engaged some undergrads on the issue. Working with Center for Responsible Business at U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and the California College of the Arts, we put together a case competition on…sustainability.
Seven teams – made up of both art and business students – competed to come up with a profitable business solution to address denim waste/reuse.
During the past two weeks, experts from Levi Strauss & Co. engaged with students on finance, design, strategy and sustainability – specifically our lifecycle analysis.
The competition wrapped up at an event where each team pitched its idea in the form of a short video (see all videos here) and a 10-minute presentation to a panel of three judges.
I was fortunate enough to be one of the judges. I was joined by Rebecca Malkin Chocron, a senior director of Finance here, and Benjamin Ospital, Owner & Founder, Modern Appealing Clothing.
What were the students judged on? Well, environmental sustainability, of course. That was the basis for the competition: What are the environmental benefits and impacts?
Also, finance: What’s the market opportunity, investment cost and payback period? Scalability – can this opportunity be scaled across the globe? And ingenuity and design: How groundbreaking is the idea – and can we own it?
All the students worked hard, and the presentations were very creative. But in the end, the judges decided that the simplest solution was the winner – see the wining team’s video here. And besides the glory (!), each member of the winning team received a check for $501 – as in Levi’s® 501s®. (Pictured above, they are Zahin Ali, Leslie Chen, James Zormier, Cecilia Xia and Jean Saung. The other participating teams are pictured below.)
But maybe the most important outcome of the event was inviting the students and professors to join our dialogue around sustainability – some of which you’ll hear in this video:
Posted By: Michael Kobori, Vice-President, Sustainability, Levi Strauss & Co.
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