Levi and how an old pair of jeans can be used to insulate buildings or be turned into a new model

At Levi Strauss & Co. thinking about sustainability traditionally starts at the early stage of cotton development. The cotton is selected, ironed, spun and woven into fabric. The fabric is cut, sewn and finished into a pair of jeans before it is sent to a distribution center and then to a store where the jeans are sold.

We wear them, live in them, love them. And in a few years we'll probably throw them away. That's... The average life of a pair of jeans lasts just over three years (although it can last decades with proper care).

What's wrong with this picture? This method is completely linear and very wasteful. At Levi Strauss & Co. want to change that and are taking another step forward in the journey towards the circular economy.

This step includes us, the users. That's why they now offer the following service: Customers can bring old clothes and shoes to any Levi's store in the US. They collect and reuse, repurpose or recycle them with their I:CO partner.

However, the opportunity is huge. They aim to create an infrastructure that supports closed-loop products by 2020. Their vision is to recycle old Levis into new ones. In doing so, they will reduce the impact of cotton farming by collecting denim from people's closets that would otherwise end up in landfill.

In order to realize their circular economy vision, they need to continue their research and development efforts. They need to create ways to separate denim from cotton-polyester blends so that these fibers can be recycled. They will also need to partner with suppliers, and together research and develop cotton fibers that are strong enough to be recycled and still meet their high quality standards.

While brands look at metrics like CLV, they constantly think about concepts like product lifetime value and the systems needed to support those concepts. For example, in more than 80 Levi's stores worldwide, they have tailors who can repair, resize your denim. These stores extend the life of jeans, so you can hang on to your favorite pair and not have to buy new ones as often. This is another of the steps they are taking to realize a circular economy.

Today, these steps remain incomplete. They have a long way to go and they cannot do it alone. They are collaborating with a network of suppliers and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition on how they can better design, manufacture and recycle their products, collectively shifting consumer behavior to effectively participate in the circular economy.

Ultimately, they are sure to create a system that supports closed-loop products, but all of us, as consumers, need to help!

Made on