Here at Levi Strauss & Co., we know the products we make have an impact on the environment and society – from the water used to finish jeans, to the workers who sew each product. And it’s our responsibility as a company to protect those resources.
Our vice president of sustainability, Michael Kobori, recently spoke with Euromonitor International about what the company is doing to achieve that balance of quality, ethics and commitment to the environment.
Though reusing and repurposing old denim is a hot trend among designers, it can be challenging to convert garments without losing durability or integrity. Plus, many jeans today are made of cotton-polyester blends, which make it particularly difficult to separate cotton fibers for recycling.
So, where do you start?
Michael explains our holistic approach to sustainability, measuring the impact of these changes not in terms of sales, but through ripple effects felt across the business, all over the world. A huge part of the impact is water. From assessments conducted in 2007 and 2015, LS&Co. learned that most water is used during the growing of cotton and consumer care (laundering).
He points to Levi’s patented Water<Less™ finishing technique — a process that saves up to 96 percent of water in the denim-finishing process. Furthermore, LS&Co. is a founding member of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which educates cotton farmers on more sustainable and productive farming practices.
The environment is just one piece of the sustainability puzzle. Michael notes our Worker Well-being initiative as one example; the program is an investment in programs that focus on improving the lives of workers who make our clothes.
Sustainability efforts on the part of apparel companies like LS&Co. make good business sense, as well, Michael says.
“We look at sustainability from an environmental, social and economic perspective…We also know that younger consumers increasingly seek out companies that demonstrate social purpose, and are more likely to buy from companies that support social and environmental causes.”