SAN FRANCISCO, CA — After undergoing anywhere from three to 10 wash cycles in industrial-sized machines, the average pair of jeans uses 42 liters of water in the finishing process.
But by making simple changes to the jeans finishing process, Levi's has been able to dramatically reduce the water needed to produce each pair of jeans -- 28 percent on average, and as much as 96 percent in some jeans products.
Levi's calls the new line "Water<Less," and the company unveiled the jeans and the process changes on Wednesday.
Among the ways that the new product line trims water use:
• Reducing the number of washing machine cycles by combining multiple wet cycle processes into a single wet process
• Incorporate ozone processing into the garment washing
• Removing the water from the stone wash
"What's different about the Water<Less collection is that we're still using the same materials and techniques to create finishes for our jeans but we've substantially reduced water's role in the equation," Carl Chiara, Director of Brand Concepts and Special Projects at Levi's, said in a statement. "Sometimes, the way to achieve a more sustainable design is to rethink a traditional process and find a way to do it better."
When the company's spring 2011 product lines hit store shelves next year, the 1.5 million pairs of jeans will have saved 16 million liters of water, and Levi's plans to expand its new finishing techniques to more of its suppliers around the world to expand its Water<Less impacts.
At the same time as the new product launch, Levi's is encouraging its customers to also reduce the water used in the care of the jeans. The image below spells out just how much water would be saved if owners washed their jeans every two weeks instead of every week -- more than 80 million liters of water, equivalent to over 13 million toilet flushes.
Water<Less jeans follow on other water-saving measures Levi's has undertaken recently, including the launch last year of a Levi's care tag that includes water- and energy-saving advice, and the development of an Eco Index to measure the environmental and resource impacts of outdoor products.