Denim Jeans. Practically all of us wear them, most of us love them, and some of us live in them. They’re a must-have, but chances are those perfectly worn-in jeans have undergone a production process reliant on harsh chemicals. In fact, the denim industry is one of the worst contributors to environmental degradation in the fashion world.
Thankfully, you don’t have to give up your beloved jeans to clear your conscious! Here are 3 ways denim mogul Levi Strauss are innovating change in the fashion industry.
1. Regenerated Nylon Waste
Levi’s are making jeans from discarded fishing nets and it’s saving marine life.
Levi Strauss have partnered with Italian nylon manufacture, Aquafil. The company makes a synthetic material called econyl, which is composed entirely of regenerated nylon waste and works well as a substitute for conventional cotton. One form of post-consumer waste that can be used to make econyl is discarded fishing nets. Currently, there are approximately 640,000 tons of abandoned fishing nets floating in our oceans, which are often responsible for the deaths of whales, turtles, seabirds and other marine life.
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Levi’s and Aquafil, are collecting these fishing nets, turning the yarn into econyl, and incorporating it into their denim jeans. Now that’s pretty cool! This new material, which also recycles yarn from used carpets, is being used in the men’s 522 collection. These jeans are 38% econyl – ensuring 38% less toxic cotton production!
Men’s 522 |Price: $119.95 AUD | International shipping
2. Repurposed Cotton
Old cotton t-shirts, once en route to becoming landfill, are now brand new denim jeans.
In the US alone, 11 million tons of textile waste ends up in landfill each year. Levi’s are taking great strides to do something about it. Along with Evrnu, a Seattle based textile technology startup, Levi’s are using cutting-edge technology to convert consumer waste into renewable fibres. They’re breaking down old cotton t-shirts, purifying them and remaking them into brand new products, with no loss of quality.
“By changing the idea from just shredding up the garments to actually kind of melting them, dissolving them down to their molecular structure of cellulose, and reconstituting the fiber, it eliminates the pollutants,” says Paul Dillinger, head of Levi’s global product innovation. Levi’s slim fit 511 Jean will be the recycled t-shirt prototype — it’s not on the market yet but it’s well on its way. Levi’s and Evrnu’s exciting advancements are redefining the fashion industry’s footprint.
3. Waterless Jeans
Say goodbye to water waste and hello water wise fashion.
From growing the cotton to the final wear, a single pair of jeans uses roughly 3,781 litres of water in its lifetime. To help reduce this impact, Levi’s launched their Water<Less™ campaign in 2011, implementing a series of practices to reduce water usage.
Levi jeans no longer go through multiple washes during the production process. Typically, a pair of jeans will undergo 3 to 10 washes during manufacturing – it’s the process which gives jeans their popular worn-in aesthetic. Instead Levi’s have combined the wash cycles into 1 process and are using dry stones instead of wet stones. This practice has eliminated water use by up to 96% in the finishing process of some of their jeans!
Alongside this effort, Levi’s Better Cotton Initiative collaborates with farmers to encourage them to reduce the amount of water and pesticides used during cotton growing.
Levi’s have already created over 75 million garments under their Water<Less™ program, saving a whopping 1 billion litres of water. That’s enough to supply drinking water for approximately 811,000 people for a year. They’re aiming to produce 80% of their jeans using the Water<Less™ technique by 2020.
501 CT Stretch | Price: $119.95 | International Shipping
It’s encouraging to see such an iconic brand breaking new ground and implementing sustainable practices across their supply chain. Levi’s are taking multiple steps in the right direction and are definitely a company to watch out for when on the hunt for that new pair of denim jeans.
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Images via Levi’s