Buy Better, Wear Longer: Levi's Commits To Sustainability
“Buy better, wear longer”. That’s the credo that goes into the production of your favourite pair of 501 jeans. Now, Levi’shas taken that philosophy and amplified it in their sustainability pact, delivering thoughtful products and minimising their footprint on the environment. All the while proving that established multinational corporations can make changes.
Never in history have we been so inundated with “greenspeak”. It’s becoming more and more confusing to align our values as consumers with brands that fail to measure up on the sustainability scale. Which sustainability scale, I hear you ask? Honestly, it could be any one of hundreds that are being developed even as we speak (and that’s in the fashion industry alone). And by the time you’ve ricocheted around Instagram infographics explaining greenwashing as opposed to greenscamming as opposed to genuine tree-hugging, you’re more confused than you were to begin with.
As Greta Thunberg put it: “blah blah blah”. If impending doom is anything to go by, we should be making more planet conscious decisions as consumers. But we can only do that if companies pull their weight and hand us the keys to a more sustainable future. That’s where Levi’s comes in.
In September this year, Levi’s released their first sustainability report, marking a vested commitment to ongoing improvement and accountability. “We want to help consumers understand the value of their clothing and the environmental impacts, both positive and negative, of their decisions.” That’s it. No trimmings, no special sauce. Just a plan to do better, and become more sustainable.
Levi’s are increasingly using sustainable fibres and production methods, and emphasising fair labour conditions to make it easy for customers to make the ethical choice, and give the planet a breather. Want to know more? We've taken a deep dive into each area that Levi's have committed to improve.
It’s hard to think of labour as fair since we’ve come to understand that the fashion industry is often synonymous with sweatshops. What’s more, many companies are happy to distract consumers with green, glistening environmental messages each time we get dangerously close to realising that there’s a human labour crisis happening a few doors over. But Levi’s has taken the responsibility of fair working conditions on board as equal to environmental issues. Levi’s offers health resources at more than 90% of their factories as well as financial literacy workshops to 50% of their factories, benefitting over 219 000 apparel workers across 17 countries and reporting increased worker satisfaction as a result.
There is so much misinformation in the fashion industry around which fibres are the most sustainable. Levi’s has made it simple by advancing a few key ones. Hemp is derived from a certain 7-leaved plant that has a controversial history. But what’s undeniable is what an absolute banger hemp is when it comes to farming a sustainable fabric. Hemp requires far less water and pesticides, and grows quicker than cotton. It takes on dyes better making for a vivid and lasting graphic t-shirt. Levi’s selects rain-fed hemp crops for their products and treats it in such a way as to make it softer - or “cottonise” it - rendering it virtually indistinguishable from cotton.
You’ve probably heard of TENCEL before, and you definitely have wondered what it actually is but been too lazy to look it up. Let me save you the trouble: TENCEL is made from sustainably harvested wood from fast-growing trees such as eucalyptus or spruce. These trees are harvested from sustainably managed forests which work to preserve ancient forests, support local habitats, and promote biodiversity. TENCEL is Levis’ answer to traditionally chaotic materials - viscose and rayon - which are huge contributors to deforestation. Not only will TENCEL help align your chakras, but it’s also super soft, lightweight, moisture absorbent and breathable.
As it stands today, cotton is still king, so we may as well improve it as much as possible. Since the end of 2020, Levi’s has been sourcing cotton from organic cotton farms, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and recycled cotton suppliers and continue to diversify their sources. Organic cotton is chemical-free (no pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers) leaving healthy soil and clean water the way nature intended it.
Water<Less™ manufacturing techniques.
When we imagine sustainable manufacturing what comes to mind are generators that harness the power of the full moon and equipment powered by the wind of a thousand bird’s wings. But Levi’s has proved that reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing doesn’t need to be so complicated. While water is the life force, most of us don’t drink enough of it. But we sure do consume a lot when it comes to the clothes we buy.
Traditionally the “washed” denim you buy and love is laundered during the production process to give it a softer, worn-in appearance. With the increased popularity of vintage faded clothing, the water usage of manufacturers can be astronomical. Levi’s has thought outside the box and achieved the same vintage look by tumbling garments with golf balls and bottle caps. In fact, 68% of their denim trucker jackets, full-length bottoms and shorts are faded with Water<Less finishing techniques. Furthermore, Levi’s have pledged to reduce their water usage in locations that are water-stressed by 50% by 2025.
From being the first to release a list of banned substances in 2000, Levi’s has continued to research and eliminate dangerous chemicals from their supply chain. Levis’ Screened Chemistry initiative seeks to research substances that are potentially detrimental to the environment and eliminate these from their usage. In collaboration with other apparel brands including Nike, they are working on creating a unified standard for chemical management in the fashion industry.
WellThread is the culmination of Levis’ efforts to empower customers. You actually can make the decision to buy a more sustainable product and in turn invest in the future of the planet with the combined power of sustainable fibres and production techniques. Not only do these products have a reduced carbon and water footprint, but they are ensured to live a long life with you and be easily recycled after you decide to move them on. None of this “festering in landfill for a thousand years” business. Not only that, but ensuring that WellThread pieces are produced in Worker Wellbeing facilities makes for a purchase it’s impossible to feel guilty about.
Future Choice at Glue Store
The grass really is greener on the other side, we just have to get there. At Glue Store we know this, and just like Levi’s, we totally understand that it’s hard to navigate the swarm of information online. So, we’re arming you with the knowledge you need to make your own purchase decision. At Glue Store, our Future Choice markers make it easy to see sustainability information on products including natural fibres (such as organic cotton and hemp), recycled fabrics, animal-friendly items, and locally designed products. Levi’s are a mainstay in our Future Choice range for their sustainability and ongoing quality.
The secret is in having more than just one avenue to recycle, recircle or produce sustainable products. Levi’s utilise as many diversified resources as they can, whether it’s hemp or Tencel, a crafty manufacturing technique or improving working conditions for their factory staff. More than just leading the way, Levi’s are sharing their processes and findings with other manufacturers for a more sustainable planet for all. And the customer? All you have to do is live a lot of life and do it in your Levi’s.