Liz O'Neill, senior vice president of product development and sourcing at Levi Strauss, said part of her strategy at Levi is to integrate sustainability into every aspect of Levi's business.
Focusing broadly, across supply chains and across products, works better, she said, to actually bring environmentally beneficial practices into being.
"Product level innovations are harder than systems level innovation," she said. "We can have an impact more broadly if we focus on the supplier level rather than factory level."
By starting with sustainability as a core philosophy, Levi's lets suppliers know what to expect from the outset: "If you're going to be a key Levi's supplier, you have to be leading on sustainability."
It just so happens that sustainability has created value at Levi's. It has produced some 75 million pairs of "waterless jeans" or products made without water. The process has saved suppliers 5 cents to 50 cents for every pair manufactured, and saved Levi's money too.
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