Are Levi’s Fast Fashion? An Analysis Of Your Favourite Jeans Ethical Practices

Being eco-friendly is a great thing, but it’s hard to find out what companies in the fashion industry are doing about it. We, as consumers, can make a difference by making smarter choices and taking action. If we all do our part, the world will be more sustainable for future generations.

In 2019, Levi Strauss & Co. recorded sales of $5.8 billion, making it easy to imagine the massive worldwide production machine that generates such enormous profits. Large-scale production inevitably has far-reaching implications. 

But Levi’s is one of the fashion brands that has been working on improving their sustainability since more than ten years ago, and they have made significant progress since then.

Here are some of the things that Levi’s has done so far.

Levi’s sustainability practices and innovation

Consumer education

In 2009, they collaborated with Goodwill® to develop “A Care Tag for Our Planet,” a campaign to raise awareness about how minor adjustments in how we care for our garments may help lessen our impact on climate change.

There are care labels on Levi’s and Dockers goods now that promote “Washing less, washing in cold, and drying on a line instead of a dryer.” You may also donate your used Levi’s and non-Levi’s clothing and shoes to any Levi’s shop in the United States, where they will be collected and recycled. 

According to Levi’s, the actions mentioned above can help remove 24 billion pounds of textiles, shoes, and clothes from American landfills every year. By 2020, they hoped to have built the infrastructure necessary to turn worn jeans into new ones and develop goods that are utterly closed-loop.

Sustainable materials

They source responsibly and try to leave the least amount of a carbon imprint possible by using various natural fibers and synthetics when it comes to raw materials. They accomplish this, in part, by introducing new ideas and concepts.

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It has been a few years now since they’ve introduced TENCEL lyocell (fibers manufactured from sustainably managed eucalyptus forests), Cottonized Hemp (faster-growing, less water-using hemp), and recycled material, like polyester to their collections.

Where does Levi’s get their cotton?

Though they do not cultivate cotton, the company claims they care deeply about the communities and environments where cotton is planted. By 2025, they plan to employ solely sustainably produced cotton to support healthier cotton systems. That’s a big statement, but they own their shortcomings and acknowledge that they have a long way to go before achieving their goals.

At the end of 2020, 75 percent of their cotton came from more sustainable sources, such as the Better Cotton Initiative, organic cotton farms, or recycled cotton providers. As previously said, they plan to achieve 100 percent soon while diversifying their sources.

In 2021, it was announced that Levi’s would join the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, which will help with water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, soil carbon, soil loss, and land-use efficiency. The company will also be a part of the Protocol Credit Management System experiment, which uses Textile Genesis’ blockchain technology to provide members with supply chain transparency.

Water consumption

In terms of water consumption, they hope to cut the use of our planet’s most precious resource in manufacturing by half in high-water-stress locations by 2025. Since adopting WaterLess® in 2011, they have saved 4.2 billion liters of water.

High-quality and durable garments

On the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference stage in 2014, Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh stated, “I think Levi Strauss is the ultimate in slow fashion.” We all know that might be true in part. According to their lifespan analysis, the average pair of Levi’s jeans is worn for little more than three years before being donated or discarded.

Levi’s denim clothing is made to last. A pair of Levi’s jeans may survive for decades, if not centuries, if properly cared for (a pair of jeans in their archives dates back to the 1800s), which is not only excellent for your budget but also good for the environment.

Compared to other high street jeans I’ve purchased, these are superior in quality, and I attribute this in part to the higher level of cotton content and the fabric’s thickness. As a result, a pair of Levi’s will last longer, requiring you to replace them less regularly and so saving you money.

Encouraging to buy less

With its “Buy Better, Wear Longer” spring 2021 advertising campaign, Levi’s emphasizes this point by bringing attention to how garment manufacture and consumption have a mutually detrimental impact on the environment. Six young influencers and activists are included in the multiplatform campaign, which highlights Levi’s dedication to manufacturing durable clothes.

But, how can the campaign mentioned above be feasible? The primary objective is to develop income sources that are independent of the sale of new items. Several environmental groups, such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, have been pushing for this for quite some time. Corporations would repair, resell, and recycle things in a circular economy instead of extracting raw resources to manufacture new ones.

The change to a more circular business model is already underway at Levi’s. Tailor Shops, where consumers may personalize and repair items, were introduced by the corporation in 2015. Levi’s Secondhand, a resale site where people can buy and sell secondhand jeans, was established in October 2020.

Is Levi’s socially responsible?

According to good on you, Levi’s has a “not good enough” labor rating. Labor standards that assure worker health and safety, a livable wage and other labor rights are not certified by almost any part of the company’s supply chain.

According to the Fashion Transparency Index, it scored 41-50 percent. Information on its supplier rules, audits, and remedial methods are all likely to be published by the company, too. A complete list of final-stage suppliers is published, along with some data on the second manufacturing stage. Forcible labor, gender equality, or associational freedom are all possible topics for this publication.

It also has a “not good enough” animal rating, on the good on you platform. The company has a stated policy on animal welfare that’s in line with the Five Freedoms but it makes use of materials like wool and leather (which are not vegan nor cruelty-free). However, their garments are made without using any kind of fur, angora, exotic hair, or skin from exotic animals.

Does Levi’s use child labor?

According to the University of Minnesota’s Human Rights Library, Levi’s code of conduct prohibits child labor. Also, Levi Strauss & Co. was the first U.S. apparel brand to prohibit the use of Uzbek cotton in its supply chain, given its direct link with government-approved child labor.

This case study indicates that because of the severity of the problem of child trafficking in Bangladesh, Levi Strauss & Co. now requires job applicants to show proof of their working age in the form of school certificates.

Based on the above, we can say that Levi’s is conscious of the child labor problem and does not advocate for it.

How can we all help to be more sustainable?

It’s great to see changes inside Levi’s, but it alone won’t be enough to affect fundamental change in the industry as a whole. Despite the progress thus far, there is still much more to be done.

Once a garment is created and purchased, its environmental impact does not end. It’s estimated that jeans’ total water usage and climatic effect might be as high as 40%, depending on how they’re treated and disposed of. Here’s the bad news: About 20 billion articles of clothing wind up in a landfill every year, with over half of them being burnt or buried within a year.

The good news is that you can do a lot to lessen the effect of your clothing. You may lower your carbon, waste, and water impact by up to 30% by wearing your garments for an additional nine months. It’s easy to infuse new life into old clothes by washing them less frequently and having them mended, strengthened, or completely redone.

All of the above may be accomplished with relative ease, especially regarding a product like a pair of Levi’s jeans, which, thanks to its classic design, can last for many years without becoming dated!

Final thoughts

Levi’s is a fashion brand that has been improving its sustainability practices to offer more eco-friendly products. However, that alone is not enough, as they may be still producing we meanwhile over-consume. There’s nothing wrong with buying a pair of Levi’s jeans as long as we keep them for long and take proper care of them.

The bottom line is that we just need to be more mindful of how much we buy and its impact on our environment. It’s time for us to take steps towards a greener future, one worn-out pair of jeans at a time!