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Levi’s makes ‘green’ jeans using 28% less water

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It takes an average of 2,866 gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans, factoring in the growing of the cotton, as well as its bleaching, dyeing and finishing, according to the Water Footprint Network, a Dutch nonprofit. Once those jeans make their way onto someone’s body, they use up thousands of gallons more in repeated washings.

Recognizing the water intensity of its products, Levi Strauss announced a new line of Water<Less jeans Thursday. The collection, available in January, will include more than a dozen classic styles, including 501, 511 and 514 jeans. Each pair will be finished with an average of 28% less water, or about 3 gallons less per pair.

By spring 2011, more than 1.5 million pairs of Levi’s will be manufactured using the Water<Less method, adding up to a water savings of 4.16 million gallons.

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According to Erik Joule, senior vice president of merchandising and design for the Levi’s brand, “We challenged ourselves to operate at the intersection of style and sustainability... We’re excited about the results we’ve achieved so far, and we know we can make an even bigger impact by applying this innovative thinking to other aspects of our production process.”

The finishing process for jeans typically involves three to 10 washing cycles. Levi’s Water<Less jeans reduce the number of wash cycles and also remove the water from its stone wash.

Earlier this year, Levi’s began including care tags on its products, providing customers with information on how to reduce the environmental impact of their clothes. Its Care Tag for Our Planet program suggests washing clothes less, washing them in cold water, line drying and donating old clothes to Goodwill.

-- Susan Carpenter


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